Today I experienced a total eclipse of the sun. My family and I drove 36 miles southwest of St. Louis to Washington, where there was the greatest amount of “totality,” a little over two minutes.
We got there early staking our place out under a tree, down by the Missouri River. As people gathered, a sense of excitement grew as footballs were thrown, a barbecue grill was started, and a policeman walked around handing out free solar glasses to anyone who needed a pair while she laughed and chatted amiably with the folks. We built two pinhole cameras to see the eclipse along with our ISO rated glasses. The glasses were great, but there was something really good about the “old-school” pinhole cameras too. A couple of guys even older than me had some awesome telescope shaped pinhole cameras. As the morning went on, I had several good conversations with people who had gathered with us, one family from Oklahoma.
The eclipse started around 11:48, and suddenly, folks were getting their glasses, looking into the sun, and the air of expectation built. It began slowly, but soon the quality of the light was different … muted somehow. As it got darker, the shadows through the trees became crescent shaped, and everything grew still as if a curtain had been opened at a theater. The lights of the town came up as the streetlights reacted to the light change, and the “orchestra” started as crickets and other insects started to chirp. Suddenly, it was dark and people dropped their glasses and just stood quietly looking at the moon, with the sun’s corona shining around it–colors of pink, purple and magenta flashing–and an amazing sunset/sunrise effect over the river on the clouds. Then, the crowd started to cheer, as if somehow they instinctively knew that God had presented us with this wonderful drama.
This might have been my first total eclipse. I know that I remember seeing at least partial eclipses through those, then remarkable pinhole cameras. But as I stood there marveling at totality, it truly filled us with a sense of awe. I know my granddaughter Johnna was thrilled and amazed at such a sight, and we were struck with the sense of order that our Creator designed the universe with. It is just this order of His that gives us the ability to predict such things with such accuracy.
After the past week of lunacy and disorder in Spain, Finland, Charlottesville, Boston, and other places, today was a much-needed counterpoint as we experienced God’s great order in His creation. Even the people were pleasant! Surely this is how God meant for us to live.