If you, like me, felt a little bit underwhelmed by yesterday’s eclipse, here’s how my attitude changed from one of being underwhelmed to overjoyed.
Yesterday, my day started as any normal workday, with the added adventure of watching the solar eclipse during the last class period of the day. The students were antsy in anticipation of the event, and the teachers were antsy in fear of not fully explaining the importance of wearing the special glasses for that said special event. We distributed parent permission forms to be signed, reviewed the dangers of looking direclty at the sun without protective glasses, and attempted to explain to students the importance of the moment they were about to witness.
Our school sent us a quick presentation that discussed the historical, mathmatical, scientific, artistic, and literary connections of the eclipse. The presentation also included a video about some of the wonderous phenomenons that could occur during the eclipse, such as the darkening of the sky and the appearance of stars. It explained how streetlamps would turn on in the enveloping darkness and how birds might chirp assuming it is a new dawn.
I quietly prayed, Dear Lord, please don’t let one of my students be the dummy who takes off their glasses and goes blind.
When we marched out onto the football field, my emotions swelled at the idea of witnessing this monumental moment. Our location would experience 96% totality, and I was thrilled.
We watched as the moon slowly crept across the sun, which was breathtaking in and of itself. The glow of the sun became smaller and smaller, until only a tiny fingernail sized sliver was visible.
And then just like that, the sun’s glow began to grow again.
And just like that, my enthusiam vanished.
I was waiting for the enveloping darkness, the display of stars, and the chorus of birds. Instead, the moment had vanished before I even really knew it was there.
I could tell that others around me felt the same way. I heard several Did-we-miss-it?s and some That’s-it?s. And shamefully, I felt the same way. Had no one told me there would be an eclipse that day, I might not have even truly noticed.
I continued to feel a bit cheated as I soon saw the plethora of social media posts revealing time-lapses in and out of total darkness and golden rings in dark skies. I wished I had been one of those adventurous souls to skip work and travel hours to a location of 100% totality, just to get the full effect of the event.
But eventually, I had a change of heart. I began to change my way of thinking. I determined that I had, in fact, witnessed something truly miraculous. Rather than be disappointed by the idea that 96% coverage did not produce more darkness, I began to marvel at the strength and power of that 4%. That 4% of the sun that remained visible produced more light than I would have thought -- enough light that could have fooled me into thinking it was a normal day.
I had been underwhelmed by the eclipse itself, but soon I was overjoyed at the hope of light.
The brightness of the sun, even at only 4%, was able to outshine the darkness. That 4% gave me hope that in all situations, even the difficult situations when it seems like darkness is creeping in, just a little bit of good or a little bit of light can go a long way. My spirits lifted at the thought of this, especially in today’s world that is filled with so much darkness. When it seems like the hatred and violence and intolerance has almost reached its totality, I’ll remember that 4% of light shining.