I hate hype.
I really do. If something is trendy or hyped, there is a strong chance I will purposefully avoid it. If a product is popular, I will [maybe] buy it long after everyone else is over it and onto the next thing. That’s just me.
Hence, I avoided jumping on the eclipse bandwagon for a long time. The thought of battling crowds and traffic did not appeal to me because, I was told, being in the 99.9% partial eclipse is still nothing like being in total eclipse zone, and we are a few miles short. We had no glasses, no plans, and I was content to let the hype pass me right over.
But a part of me felt that as a homeschooling mom, it’s my duty to at least talk with my kids about it, and maybe possibly if I kind of sorta felt like it attempt to watch it. Travis found glasses, just in case. I started researching it. Reading poetically riveting descriptions of what it’s like. Watching videos with the kids about it. Learning that there are many specific factors that must line up perfectly in order for this to happen. Understanding that it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
My little anti-hype self started to get a little excited inside. Through a half-joking Facebook comment inviting myself over, a friend in Liberty offered for us to come to her apartment in the path of totality. We agreed. She had a family emergency yesterday and suggested an alternate location at a library in Liberty. Another friend didn’t have plans so we invited her to come along.
Even this morning, after a very exhausting weekend, the thought of packing lunches and making the kids eclipse glass box heads and driving and wrangling 3 kids…it all sounded too much for this mama, who happened to have a MASSIVE headache (still there). As the rain poured and the thunder rolled, I seriously considered staying home. Who knew if we would have clear skies, anyway?
But, as my husband said, it’s a once in a lifetime chance. Why not give it a shot? I packed the lunches, made the box heads, and we packed into the van to head north. We hit minimal traffic on 71 and took a backroad route to the library. I expected it to be packed, but it wasn’t. We sat in the almost-empty coffee shop and ate our lunches, taking turns to step outside with our glasses and check the moon’s progress moving across the sun. A handful of other people were there, but overall the library was wonderfully quiet.
Ideal for these introverts. No crowds. Just a few people who happened upon this perfect location.
The partial eclipse was cool. But I don’t know that it would have felt like that big of a deal had it stopped at 99.99%.
The proverbial “they” were right. That .01% makes a huge difference.
During the eclipse, a haze of clouds moved across the sun and moon, partially obscuring our view at times. It actually added a really cool effect to see the clouds passing over the partially eclipsed sun.
As the moon closed over the sun in, the clouds parted and we had a completely clear view of the sun. The partially darkened sky took on an eerie, twilight feel. We saw the orange and yellow Bailey’s Bead’s sparkling like a diamond fire. We saw the diamond ring take form around the sun when the moon moved into totality. The sky darkened (although where we were, it was not pitch black, probably due to still being in a populated city area). The temperature dropped. Stars appeared.
We took off our glasses to see the corona shining like a ring of fire (oh wait, it is) in a breathtaking sight. The two minutes of totality were far too short; I could have watched that sight all afternoon. There were cheers. There were fireworks (really?). There was a shared sense of excitement among the dozen strangers standing on the patio. We had just witnessed something incredible, and none of us wanted it to end.
Why? What makes it so incredible? Some people weren’t impressed. Some say it was nothing. Some say just watch it on TV.
Here’s why I say watching the total eclipse in person, was worth it: it’s a taste of the glory and majesty and holiness of God, and you’re not seeing it through someone else’s eyes. You are seeing it with your own.
It’s one thing to see a photograph. Or watch a video. But why do people go climb mountains when they could see a picture? Why spend money and travel to see the Seven Wonders when they could see a video? Why dive deep into the depths of the sea when you can go to an aquarium?
Because to see it with one’s own eyes is to believe that it is real. It is possible. It is other-worldly.
And that, ultimately, is why we’re drawn to these sights. It’s why we send people to the moon. It’s why we want to get to Mars. It’s why we wonder if aliens exist. It’s why we study astronomy.
It’s why we point church steeples to the sky. It’s why we love mountains. It’s why sunsets and sunrises are some of the most sought after sights.
Deep down we know that we are tiny, infinitesimally small. We know that this life won’t satisfy. We are desperately aware that if this world, this life, is all there is, we have nothing.
We long to know that there is more than just this life out there. The human soul thirsts for the glory of God. The human mind begs to break out of its finite box. The human heart aches for something bigger itself. It’s the same reason the people built the Towel of Babel.
They longed to get back to Eden. They wanted a taste of the glory of God. Actually, more than a taste. They wanted to achieve it.
So do we.
I can’t help but awe at the majesty of God today. He created all of it. An earth, that though large to us, is a pinprick (or smaller) in the universe. A sun that is 400 times larger and 400 times farther away than the moon.
And yet He loves us. Us. Little human twerps that we are. Through Jesus, He made a way for us to be brought back to heaven, to stand forever in the presence of His glory, where finally we can take the eclipse glasses of our sin off (thank you, Peter Assad, for that illustration) and see His majesty in all of its beauty, completely unobscured.
Isaiah saw the glory of God. In response he fell to his knees saying “Woe is me! I am nothing but a sinner!”
In return God said, “This has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Isaiah rose to his feet and said “Send me, Lord. I’ll go anywhere. Send me!”
An encounter with the glory of God left him acutely aware of his unworthiness. The forgiveness of God transformed his life to worship.
This eclipse was a glimpse, a tiny taste, of the glory and majesty of God. I am astounded that He created it all. I am in awe that He loves me. I am keenly aware of my unworthiness of His forgiveness. And I am moved to worship at His arms, outstretched on the cross, saying “I’ve made a way. A way for you to come back to Eden.”
I, like Isaiah, would sell my possessions in a heartbeat and move my family to the ends of the earth if He asked me to. Because if that was a taste, what greater glory awaits?
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled with His glory (Isaiah 6:3)
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the sky above proclaims His handiwork (Psalm 19:1)
The heavens declare his righteousness; for God Himself is judge! (Psalm 50:6)