The story of the moon is the story of human life. It is at the moments when we are most in our darkness that we are closest to our source of light.
Yesterday was the new moon. The Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycles, and the new moon each month is celebrated with a holiday called Rosh Chodesh (literally “head of the month”). This new moon is the Jewish month of Nissan, which is the first month in the Jewish calendar.
This week is also the Spring Equinox, when we shift from winter to spring. The waxing of the moon as it grows from new moon to full moon, and the shift from winter to spring, carry similar energies. In both cases, we are going from darkness into light.
The lunar cycle offers some profound parallels to our lives, and has a few things to teach us about our mindset regarding the dark times. If you’re feeling stuck in an unending winter, I hope this serves to reframe the darkness for you.
The Lunar Cycle
Let’s start with some fundamentals.
The moon orbits around the Earth in a cycle that takes 29.5 days. From our perspective, the moon changes in its size and shape over that time.
At the new moon, the moon is hardly visible. For the first 15 days of the lunar month, the moon orbits around Earth, moving father from the sun and growing in brightness. On the 15th day of the lunar month, it shines full.
At the full moon, the moon is at its farthest point from the sun. As the moon continues its orbit around Earth, it diminishes, becoming less visible to us as it gets closer to the sun.
At the point in the cycle when the moon is at greatest proximity to the sun, it is out of our view entirely. This is when the moon is “new.”
Moon Cycles = Life Cycles
The story of the moon is the story of human life. Lack fuels initiative. Setbacks stimulate growth. Achievements are born from moments of dimunition and depreciation.
Rabbi Menachem Schneerson taught that all creations other than humans move in a “solar” orbit—an orbit defined by preordained limits which it cannot transcend.
For example. a rose bush will never become a lemon tree.
Only the human being is lunar, with a trajectory through life that includes both growth and decline, obliteration and rebirth. By virtue of free choice, we have the capacity for self-destruction and self-transformation. We have the power to negate all we stand for and recreate ourselves in a new mold. 
The lunar cycle teaches us that we can transcend our existing structures.
Darkness and Light
We often speak about the light at the end of the tunnel — the idea that we must go through the darkness to get to the light.
But consider this: at the point during the moon’s orbit at which we cannot see the moon at all, where it disappears from the sky and leaves us in utter darkness, the moon is closest to the sun.
The same is true for us.
Like the moon, it is at the moments when we are most in our darkness that we are closest to our source of light. We find our light not on the other side of darkness but in the darkness itself.
Only after we have been in this darkness — invisible to everyone else — can we emerge to be seen by the world.
Visibility Does Not Determine Completeness
From the perspective of Earth, the moon grows and then diminishes. It appears to get stronger and then weaker. It is there to guide us in the dark, but then it leaves us in greater darkness. But the moon’s diminishment is an illusion.
Consider the moon from the moon’s perspective. It is never diminished. It remains the same size throughout its orbit, always whole and complete, even when we cannot see it as such.
In fact, at the point at which the moon is invisible to us — when we are left in complete darkness — the sun’s illumination of the moon is at its brightest and most intense.
In moments when you feel the pain of not measuring up, or not being seen for who you are, consider your perspective: are you viewing yourself through the eyes of others, or through your own eyes?
Lessons: You Are the Moon
In your darkest moments you are closest to your source of light. Our setbacks — the moments of our apparent diminished vitality — are actually points of intensified vitality.
You are whole and complete always, even when nobody else can see you.
Trust that in the right time, you will emerge as visible to the people who need to see you.
What matters most is how you see yourself.