I am writing this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which also happens to be my son’s ninth birthday, which also happens to be the day after a lunar eclipse. It was cold last night for North Carolina, 16 Fahrenheit or about -9 Celcius.

That made for a clear sky to see the lunar eclipse, and my son stays with me on Sunday nights. We laid out warm clothes and a small telescope. I promised him I’d wake him up to see the eclipse.

We didn’t end up using the telescope much. Just seeing it with your naked eye is fairly breathtaking. As the eclipse approached totality, it seemed as if there was a spotlight on one side of the Moon, as if it was hung in an art museum for quiet contemplation.

It’s hard to tell from our human perspective just how far away the Moon is. We can put a thing into orbit, ready to meet the International Space Station, in a little less than ten minutes. It took four days to get to the Moon. The entire planet Saturn and its rings would fit between Earth and the Moon. It was so hard to get there that humans haven’t been back in more than 46 years, despite the fact that the tiny device you are probably reading this on has replaced maps, cameras, multicomponent audio systems, compasses, books, cash registers, calculators, travel agents, guitar tuners, alarm clocks, and— if we’re not careful— actual experiences.

We still don’t have an app for justice and equality. We haven’t replaced the magic of a real celestial event. The innocence and vulnerability of our own children is a reminder that it’s not enough to imagine these things.

Because the crew of the Apollo mission risked death, my son is able to come home and explore the surface of the Moon and even Mars on a computer screen. Because Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others risked death, my son can learn and play with friends of all cultures and colors. I imagine what it must have felt like for the Apollo crew as they lifted off from the Moon. We’ve come so far. We have so far to go.

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Every Wednesday night!
The Kraken
Chapel Hill, NC

Feb 1 Fri
Society Garden
Macon, GA

Feb 2 Sat
TOL Coffeehouse
Columbia, SC

Feb 3
Arcana
Durham, NC
special guests for a 25-minute set! With Charles Latham

Feb 10 Sun
The Alleghany Arts Council for The Beat Goes On
Sparta, NC

Feb 14 Thu
Muddy Creek Cafe And Music Hall
Bethania, NC

Feb 22-23 Fri & Sat
Wintergrass Music Festival
Bellevue, WA

Mar 14 Thu
Muddy Creek Cafe And Music Hall
Bethania, NC, United States

Mar 15 Fri
The Cary Theater
Cary, NC

Mar 28 Thu
Red Dragon Listening Room
Baton Rouge, LA

Mar 30 Sat
Fayetteville Public Library
Fayetteville, AR

Apr 4 Thu
Museum of Commerce
Pensacola, FL

Apr 6 Sat
Sycamore Creek Concerts
Dripping Springs, TX

May 11 Sat
Tobias Music
Downers Grove, IL

May 16 Thu
Caffe Lena
Saratoga Springs, NY

May 19 Sun
Askew Prov
Providence, RI

May 24 Fri
Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
Morristown, NJ

May 26 Sun
Island Pride
Gaithersburg, MD

photo by Aaron Honeycutt

photo by Aaron Honeycutt

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