As I write this, we are traveling through North Carolina, on our way home from Anderson, SC, where we were at to watch the 2017 Eclipse.
Very cool experience.
It was a little disappointing when a very large cloud obscured the sun at the last moment, resulting in not being able to observe the corona. But it was still very amazing to be in the Totality Zone.
The darkness descended quickly–and that was awesome, in and of itself, as the temperature dropped and we could see a “sunset” along the horizon all around us–pinks and purples and rose-colored clouds, just as if the sun was sinking at the end of the day.
Except, it was 2:30pm. And the sunset literally surrounded us.
But, it was the moment leading up to totality, and the moments right after, that struck me the most.
I had read of the “effect” that the eclipse would have on shadows and the relief of the landscape that we would see. But actually seeing it with my own eyes was far more fascinating that I expected. I thought the moment of Totality would be the most striking point–and, it might have been, if not for that pesky cloud covering the sun in that moment.
But the memory I will take away from the Eclipse Event, is the incredible sharpness of all that my eyes could see, even as the light dimmed.
Usually as light dims, the thing that we see around us become fuzzier–harder to see–as they fade into the darkness. This can be frightening and disorienting, even, as we can lose our bearings, when darkness descends.
But what was amazing today was that, as the light faded, instead of the trees, buildings, cards, people, bushes, landscapes becoming harder to see, they were thrown into sharp relief. Everything seemed accented. Punctuated. Outlined, even. Absolutely everything “stood out”–it was as if the trees I had been sitting under all afternoon suddenly looked different–more “real” somehow.
I’ve done a bit of research, and everything I’ve read seems to indicate that the reason for this phenomena lies in the effect that the eclipse has on the shadows of objects, along with the filtering of the sun’s rays. Some people see “shadow bands” rippling across the ground. Others notice that leaves from trees create tiny crescent moon shadows on the ground below.
I don’t want to turn this event into some sort of “preacher sermon illustration”–I’m sure there is plenty of that going on across the nation. John Crist had a very hysterical video, referencing that–and if you’d like a good laugh, I urge you to check it out here: John Crist ~ Eclipse Sermon Illustrations
But I think by writing, so here I am in this dark truck, replaying the day, and thinking how very differently the experience was, than I imagined it would be.
The sky is so important to me. Always has been–which is probably what drove me to make this crazy whirlwind trip this weekend. When I first read about the upcoming solar eclipse over a year ago, I instantly got online and booked hotel rooms. I was determined to be there.
I imagined myself standing there under that dark sky for those 2 minutes and 37 seconds, and being awed by the display of God’s creative power, as the moon cast it’s shadow upon the earth and obliterated the sun momentarily, displaying the sun’s atmosphere and the stars. I have eagerly awaited this day, for a year—-this visual declaration of Psalm 19, in the sky that is and has been so important to me, in so many ways, since from the time I was a young girl. I wanted to be able to pray these words, in those moments–precisely because both the sky and words are deep components of what makes my soul well and at peace:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Oh, my soul, how I love these verses. How I love that God created the sky, and that it proclaims who he is, every day with the brilliance of the sun, and every night with the magnitude of stars and planets and moons. How I love that the Psalmist here references the use of words–speech–being poured at day by day.
And, that there is nothing hidden from the heat of the sun.
And, that there is nothing hidden from my God.
He sees, and knows.
I imagined there would be an adrenaline rush of sorts, as my gaze was fixed upon the sun, and after I could safely remove my eclipse safety glasses, to observe the corona.
But, because that blasted cloud was obscuring the sun in those moments before, during and after totality, I found myself captivated by my surroundings, and how they were “changing” and becoming sharper, even as the light faded.
And, in those moments, the song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” came to mind: in particular, the words of the chorus:
Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
And, it struck me—when I turn to Jesus–when I rip my focus from the nightmares and challenges and griefs of this world (and, truthfully, when I rip my focus from the very “good” things, too, because even “good” things can distort our view of God and give us a false sense of self-reliance)–when I return my gaze to Him through prayer and scripture reading/study, and spiritual disciplines, a strange thing happens.
The things of this earth grow dim, but strangely so. They do not grow dim in a frightening, disorienting way. Instead, they grow dim in a sharp relief, similar to how the landscape around me grew dim today during the eclipse. I begin to see the heartaches, griefs, challenges–and even the joyful things–with a much more settled sense of God’s sovereignty. He allows all things, for His glory. Therefore nothing that comes my way, does so without passing through His hands.
And the knowledge of that brings more focus to the things around me, even as they dim into the background as my gaze turns toward my Savior.
And, there will be a day, when all of the cares of this earth will fade away, and we will see Him face-to-face: no more sadness, no more grief, no more longing for home, no more sinful pride.
And in those moments, the words of 1 Corinthians 13:12 will become reality, for what we know in part now, we will know fully then, as we stand in His presence, declaring His glory as the heavens did today.