Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse, Wrapped Up with a Bow

I cried out to God that I couldn’t make Dave’s dream come true on my own—he would have to intervene. I wasn’t thinking of the obvious things (like the sun and moon)—but the “mountains” that so often consume our daily lives: there couldn’t be anyone smoking. No bug spray. No perfumey people. No overwhelming crowds or blaring music or vibrating bass. We needed to avoid most of the 200,000 people flooding to Southern Illinois for the eclipse on August 21st.

Sun with sunspots, August 20th

Dave’s lifelong dream started when he was 9 or 10, with a book about the stars and planets from his Uncle Eddie. I remember the morning at our kitchen table when the dream spilled out like so many moonbeams, unable to be contained—but Dave was choked up because the totality of it all seemed too impossible. That’s when I knew—we had to make this one happen.

Dave, bespeckled with eclipse glasses!

Dave studied the map, looking for the perfect place that would be lovely and clear and not too crowded. A spot in nature—because part of the experience, he knew from his extensive reading, is not just what you see but what you hear. This, too, was part of the dream, and even then, God’s finger was nudging Dave to a quiet side of a smaller lake where a few thoughtful people would gather but the crowds would ignore.

A quiet little spot on the lake

Dave started setting up the tripod as I unpacked our antigravity chairs (which assisted Dave in lying back and sitting up), and we snapped a quick shot of the vanishing sun. We were really there!

Our first glimpse, around noon

The air had that greenish glow-before-a-storm look to it, not the light of twilight. 

Dragonfly along the shore

As the sun inched away bit by bit, we marveled that there was still so much light with just a sliver of sun. Then the birds shifted to their nighttime warble and the frogs began their rhythmic croaking. A great blue heron set his shyness aside and garnered the courage to wing across the wide lake in front of us, eager for his “dusk” feeding. Cicadas drummed out their deafening cacophony, and the cool of evening fell.

The final sliver of sun slipped away and cheers rose from around the lake! 

Then, silence and awe. We all listened, engulfed, entranced, lulled by the blackened new moon where once the sun had shone, and the brilliant corona, joyfully dancing around it in the solar winds. A few planets and stars twinkled, and the gravitational pull of totality held us in its spell. It seemed like it would last forever. 

Then, suddenly, the diamond ring burst forth and the sun peeked out, flooding our senses with light again.

The first new light from the sun spilled out in little pools, and Dave cupped his hands. The light seemed tangible, as if we could scoop it up like so many moon-balls in our hands.

The second dawn of the day awakened.

I opened the Word, but before I could turn to Psalm 19, the leaves of a tree showered its pinhole-camera crescent shadows. I had actually walked the grounds, looking for this just before totality—what a joy to see it as we stopped to read:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
--Psalm 19, NIV 

Then, joy upon joy, as if one heavenly sign of God’s power and love wasn’t enough, God wrapped up our 28th anniversary trip with a storm and a rainbow on our way home.  

"I will remember my covenant between me and you
and all living creatures of every kind." 
Happy 28th Anniversary, Dave!