The event that happens so rarely was seen by millions across the United States on August 21, 2017. The total solar eclipse crossed the U. S. in less than two hours going from coast to coast. Many Americans only witnessed a few seconds whereas some saw it for up to two minutes. Mostly everyone that participated was awestruck. It was a spectacular few seconds that caused this country to stop and look towards Heaven. I wonder how God must have felt to see our country all looking towards His heavens, even though briefly.
As an Oregonian, I watched with awe and enthusiasm. It was a beautiful summer day starting with clear skies. Madras, Prineville and Redmond Oregon were in the path of totality to allow bystanders the best of all views. The population of Madras is home to 6,700 residents. That morning over 200,000 people were camping near Madras to see this phenomenal event.
In the beginning God created heaven and earth. Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. He called the light day and the darkness night (Genesis 1:1-5).
Many businesses were closed; people were pulling over to side along Interstate 5 in Oregon so they could witness this event even though many signs warned against doing this. Screams and cheers were heard all the way to Salem, Oregon.
Why are these solar eclipse moments so monumental? Scientists and astronomers will tell you they are learning experiences for them. They apparently learn to infer basic laws of motion. Four hundred years ago eclipses confirmed fundamental theories of how objects move on earth and throughout the solar system. Throughout time this knowledge helped us form the fundamentals of modern science and technology.
What do we learn as Catholics and Christians during this few seconds of wonder? To begin with, I believe we learn we are a small part of God’s wide creation. God is working through our natural cycle of normal events and forcing us to take notice of His universe.
While at work yesterday, someone pointed out to me that they noticed when you look at the plants you could see a reflection of the sun/moon on their leaves. Animals knew to stand still. Wow, it seemed that all living things were taking notice.
I am reminded about a time when the sun darkened during the Crucifixion of Jesus. Some might say it was not out of the ordinary since it was no different than an eclipse. We learned yesterday, however, that the eclipse only lasts a few seconds; at most just minutes. The darkness over the crucifixion lasted for three hours. That was not a natural rare incident; we now know that the Crucifixion was a supernatural event. The biblical details don’t match with an eclipse. One reason for this is it wouldn’t have occurred near the Passover. Secondly, an eclipse is too brief by comparison. I think for those who witnessed the Crucifixion, they must have been awestruck. Maybe they said to themselves, “Hey, maybe we got this all wrong; maybe He was the Son of God.” They must have asked the question, what possibly did this darkness mean? The answer is obvious to us now. The darkness at the Crucifixion was a sign of God’s Son Jesus taking on our sins.
Perhaps the eclipse is just a simple reminder about the greatness of God’s creation and the greatness of God himself. We are the children of God who live in His Universe.
I believe that wearing the glasses and looking towards Heaven just may have given us the opportunity to appreciate the gifts that have been given us by God.