“Nah, not interested…I’ll just watch it on the evening news.”
That was my reaction when asked if I was going to join other Redeemer staff in the courtyard to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse on Monday afternoon. “Oh come on, you really should not miss this” they cajoled. So my desire to be a ‘team player’ consequently superseded my indifference towards the event! I joined the others who had brought a collage of pinholes in papers, homemade contraptions using cereal boxes and ultimately even a pair of official safety glasses. The clouds cleared at that point which provided an unblemished view of the eclipse. Our collective reaction was one of childlike delight and awe. Experiencing this solar event in real time touched a deep place in our humanity or as the Celtics might observe, it was an example of a “thin place”. On a personal basis, I was surprised and delighted that it was more than a meteorological event. I was curious to read more about the spiritual roots that portrayed such a unique occurrence. I share the following reflections from a variety of authors:
“The metaphorical significance of a solar eclipse-the temporary darkening of illumination-can invite deep, meaningful reflection on the rich dance of dark and light in our ordinary lives. We all go through times when the light is eclipsed by the darkness of uncertainty, unknowing, or loss. Rather than resisting those times, we can be curious about them and look more closely at what they have to teach us and how they might help us grow. The eclipse is a powerful spiritual teacher because it reminds us that these shifts are natural and cyclical-the darkness may arrive for a time, but then the light returns.”
“This kind of event also reminds us of the other spectacular and ‘sacred’ (worthy of honor and respect) nature of the planet we inhabit. It puts our human place within the cosmos in clearer perspective, reminding us that we are part of a much larger world that is not dependent upon our human activity. It evokes spiritual experiences of awe, wonder, and humility, even when we understand scientifically what is occurring.”
“The astronomer Samuel Langley (1834-1906) wrote that a total solar eclipse is a spectacle ‘One of which, though the man of science may prosaically state the facts, perhaps only the poet could render the impression.”
“There are times when many of us experience what we might call a spiritual eclipse. Something gets in the way and we struggle to see the light of Christ we know is always there. During those times, it can be easy to be fooled into reacting to the darkness of our circumstances, like the animals getting ready for the night during the solar eclipse. Our faith in Jesus calls us to live differently, beyond our senses.”
Finally, I wish to call your attention to a Letter to the Editor, published in The Baltimore Sun on Monday from Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, a friend to The Church of the Redeemer:
“Finding light in dark hours”
Today, the country will experience the shadow of darkness cutting a swath over the heart of this nation. We will see it coming, it will swallow the light and it will linger. But it will not last. It will not reign. The darkness itself will ultimately be eclipsed. At this trying time for our country, let us use this moment of light’s ascendance to celebrate in solidarity the defeat of darkness and the reign of goodness by wearing things braded; in our hair, clothing, jewelry, belts, and bracelets. Anchored by strands of yellow-the color of the sun-interlaced with all colors of the spectrum to proclaim that we stand together, beautiful, strong, interwoven, whenever darkness threatens to extinguish the light.”
I am curious…..what was your reaction to experiencing the eclipse. If you missed this one, the next is in 2024! Shall we meet in the courtyard?
PS: Next time you see me, ask to see my braid hanging on my key chain around my neck!