The Great American Eclipse began its American journey near Depoe Bay, Oregon. Depoe Bay figures prominently in my summers growing up. I wasn’t paying enough attention, otherwise I might have considered a sojourn to Depoe Bay for the total solar eclipse. Instead, Saint Sam and I experienced 78.2 percent of the eclipse from our own backyard in northern California.
We parked our outdoor chairs on the lawn. The breeze was cool, the neighborhood quiet, and the steady hum of morning traffic winding down. We could hear the birds, although they were tucked away in their hide-aways. It was still too early for the butterflies and the squirrels were keeping their distance. Saint Sam becomes Warrior Sam when they try to bury their nuts in his carefully tended plant pots!
Our solar eclipse was pretty uneventful. I thought that a 78.2 percent solar eclipse would have rendered a little more darkness or shadows. It was more like a hazy morning, or what we Californians refer to as earthquake light. The temperature did drop as the eclipse increased. Even though we didn’t experience totality, it was still an awesome and sacred few hours.
Millions of people showed up across the United States to view the total eclipse of the sun. The eclipse became a few hours of shared humanity. It was a few hours when we were invited to consider the heavens and cosmos. The Great American Eclipse was an astronomical occurrence that offered a wondrous respite from the drama and violence that seems to constantly disrupt daily life and threaten any harmony we seek.
It’s hard to find glimmers of hope and comfort in a world wracked by war, famine, economic inequality, violence, deportation, and systemic sin. My privilege and skin color may keep more distress at arms length, but we are all oppressed and as long as any are oppressed. Hateful rhetoric has entered mainstream conversation making attempts to eclipse the dignity, value and sacredness of all people.
The prophet Isaiah was inspired to share a message of hope, help, and comfort to a people in the snare disillusionment and despair. Life was difficult. Their neighbors were contentious and their communities were wracked with destruction and neglect. Isaiah was a spiritual guide with a message that God remains with them, and that God still desires what is good and right and true for and within them.
Several centuries later Jesus picks up the scroll of Isaiah, reads these inspiring verses aloud, and then proclaims that the Scriptures are being fulfilled here and now. The pixie dust didn’t just get sprinkled and everything was made right. Jesus spoke to those who were listening. They would become God’s agents of help, hope, and comfort then and inspire generations to come.
Just like the eclipse, a life of true faith often seems uneventful. Maybe our efforts or prayers seem solitary or inconsequential. The spiritual magic is when we see our shared humanity and do something to enhance it. It’s looking at the darkness in our own hearts while waiting for the light to shine again. It’s opening ourselves up to something we don’t fully understand. It’s looking to the heavens and stars in awe and wonder, lifting our vision beyond. It’s kneeling in humility that the God of the cosmos and beyond is the same God who is intimately involved and invested in each and every human being gracing this great planet. No one is eclipsed in God’s sight.