That’s the word that came to mind when I thought of my nightly ritual. Obeisance – a salutation, a deference, a homage.
Every night, near the witching hour, in the gap between today, yesterday and tomorrow, I slip out into the night. I give obeisance to the stars (if they glimmer), to the moon (if she is nigh), to the aurora (if they shimmer), to the earth below my feet. I cannot see the hills unless the moon is full, but I feel them there, a weighty, comforting presence to the south. In high summer, as now, the leaves whisper and the grasshoppers hiss. In winter, the silence is almost complete, unless the wind sees fit to rouse the snow to rasping as it skiffs and drifts and piles.
I suppose it’s almost like a prayer, an Isha’a, a Matins, a Ma’ariv, almost like but not, since it is my own keeping of the Hours, nothing I was ever taught or told to do. It is just something I feel I must do when I am here at home. I must give obeisance to this land and this sky, I must go out in the stifling summer warmth or the freezingness of winter, or the damp chillliness of spring or the dry chillliness of fall. I must crank my head back, I must gaze up at the tapestry of stars and zooming satellites and dancing planets and the nighttime luminary, if the phase is visible. Why must I? Perhaps because I cannot fall asleep without a lungful of fresh air before bed. Perhaps because I’m a night owl and I must commune with my own kind. Perhaps because the universe and the earth conspire together to draw me out. Perhaps because I know I am lucky to be able to stand motionless and alone under the unobstructed sky at midnight, as so many people in the world cannot. Perhaps because I just need to and that’s the only real reason.