“I will love the light for it shows me the way,
yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”
Like thousands of others, we traveled many miles to be in the path of totality. It was the eclipse of the century, August 21, 2017, and we wanted to be a part of it. Unlike other big events that draw people together such as the Superbowl or the Olympics, this was different. This was real. Science and nature at it’s best and accessible to many.
Eclipse fever was running high. New campgrounds had sprung up in the path of totality. Highways in Nebraska and Wyoming were closed to oversized trucks. Men were overheard discussing the likely shortage of eggs and milk. Truck drivers complained about the delays but had their solar glasses ready. Baseball games added extra solar innings. Cities in the path of totality opened their arms to the tourists and their dollars. Americans like to be a part of something. Especially something bigger than themselves. Witnessing a total eclipse presented just this opportunity. Today, along with others, we eagerly anticipated the darkness with a sense of awe, mystery and smallness. Darkness. It was welcomed in our lives today. Normally it is not.
When a dark shadow passes over our lives, it doesn’t leave so quickly. Light is often slow in coming. Unlike today, the dark shadows in our lives are never planned. Darkness usually takes us by surprise. Is it a loved one’s death? A lost job or opportunity? A family disagreement? We can all recall our own dark shadows. For me the shadows swirled with a divorce, a miscarriage and a breast cancer scare. Dark shadows currently hover over my family with the recent sudden death of my father-in-law. But thankfully, time usually pushes darkness away. Time brings light. And light restores balance. I have learned that to know darkness is to also know the light. To feel the light is to feel the darkness too.
After the two and a half minutes of darkness today, there was a burst of bright light, the diamond ring effect. Americans stood in awe. Mesmerized. Energized. Balance was restored. Today, we know why darkness occurred in the middle of the day. However, in our lives, we may never understand why darkness occurs at a particular time or for a particular reason. We all want answers. Perhaps we are not always meant to know. Science can be a mystery, and so too is life.
Perhaps we are like pearls starting out as an irritating dark grain of sand. Out of this darkness comes a beautiful iridescent gem. T.S. Elliot said, “So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
Today, we were awed by both the light and dark of the eclipse. We saw both near Lincoln, Nebraska including a few unwelcome clouds. We enjoyed the journey and being a part of something greater than ourselves. We stood in a cornfield and tried our homemade pinhole viewers. Although they worked, the eclipse glasses were so much better. We drank beers with locals in the evening while talking story, discussing the eclipse of the century and pondering the mysteries of life. To appreciate both the light and the darkness in our lives is to embrace change, grow and live life fully. We appreciated both today. It is not always that easy.