Moonlight makes me happy. I noticed it a long time ago. When I was still a girl living in Clackamas with my father, I asked him once if the plants in his garden needed moonlight to grow. Being a man of a practical turn of mind, he said, “Yes, I think they probably get a little bit of growth from moonlight.”
But that’s not really what I was asking.
I think there are elements to things that we can’t explain. They are magical, mystical and wonderful. Moonlight shining on the ocean and backlighting the clouds is glorious. Feeling your baby move in your womb for the very first time is spectacular; holding said baby on its day of birth is even more amazing. Some things are beyond our puny comprehension and defy description.
Let me create an old Hawaiian legend. Many hundreds of years ago, there was a princess. She lived alone in the moon’s rays and could only appear once every hundred years, on a soft summer night when the moonlight touched the sea. She would softly tread the moonlit path, come out of the sea and onto land, granting one wish to the first human she would see. Her black hair hung straight to her waist. She was clothed in a shimmering gown of light. Her dark eyes were mischievous but kind and her beauty radiated from within.
One night, a young man stood on a cliff above Kapalua. He was miserable. This boy, Kimo, loved a girl who had died recently of a wasting disease. Heartbroken, he watched the moon on the sea, his desire to live waning. He contemplated a last final plunge into the murky blue. The waves pounded below, keeping time with his heart.
Moonlight Princess touched down on the sea, hair blowing in the warm breeze. She stepped lightly on the waves. Her eyes lit the night, glowing like two dark stars in her luminous face.
Kimo saw her. He’d heard the legends as a child before but had put them away as he grew older. Moonlight Princess? Couldn’t be. His eyes were playing tricks on him as he grieved.
But she got closer. She stepped out of the water and suddenly appeared before him.
“Mortal,” she said kindly, “I am the Moonlight Princess. What is your name?”
“K-k-kimo”, he stuttered. What was happening here?
“Kimo, why do you cry? What makes you so sad?”
Faced with such a sympathetic though otherworldly ear, Kimo poured out his troubles. Moonlight Princess had compassion on the poor boy. Never known love, she’d seen it in the humans before. She would like – no, love – to experience it for herself. It seemed to bring out the best in people. They sought to please someone else rather than themselves.
Kimo finished up by saying, “She died last week. She was my sun. I orbited around her. I don’t know how I can live without her. My parents died long ago and I was an only child.”
Moonlight Princess paused. She did not have the power to bring anyone back from the dead. But she had an idea.
“Kimo, if you come with me, you will never be sad again. I can show you a world you’ve never dreamt of. I know this world no longer has any hold on you. We can be free there together. In time, perhaps you will grow to love me as you loved your girl. And you would live forever.”
Now Kimo paused. Could he really live forever – in the moon? It seemed preposterous, yet here he was, talking to a legendary creature.
“If it is as you say”, he cautiously began, “can you prove to me that you are real? I want to believe you and go to a place with no more sadness, but I can’t help thinking my mind made you up!”
Moonlight Princess thought for a moment.
“I can prove it.” She touched the ground with her right hand. “Now watch.”
Up sprung a trailing vine with a white bud. The bud opened. An ethereal white flower unfolded.
“This”, she stated, “is a moonflower. It lies dormant during the day and unfurls at night to catch the rays of the moon. Touch it. It is my proof to you of my existence.”
Kimo gently caressed the petals. They were warm and soft, like skin. They reflected the moon’s light. The plant was alive.
Suddenly overcome, he said, “I believe! Take me with you, beautiful princess.”
So she did. And every one hundred years, they walk arm in arm down the path of light beamed down onto the ocean. They still grant one wish to a lucky mortal every century. They had one child together whom they named – what else? – Moonflower. The moonflower plant still grows there above Kapaula, a testament to the power of love and believing in dreams.
I just made that legend up, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?