Without the special glasses to watch the eclipse, you wouldn’t see the three-hour-long spectacle unfolding overhead. If you were in the eclipse path and had no glasses, you might become aware that something unusual was happening when the sun suddenly went out mid-afternoon.
I experienced the eclipse from start to finish in woodsy campgrounds with a stream gurgling through it, among friends who traveled to North Carolina to be in the path. When someone looked up at 1:00 p.m. and announced that the eclipse was starting, a dozen of us took places under the trees, relaxing on blankets and chairs. We watched as the moon slid slowly across the face of the sun, obscuring more and more of it.
Periodically I took off my glasses and looked around. To my shock and amazement, everything around me looked EXACTLY the same as if the eclipse wasn’t happening. Bright sunlight filtered through the trees and ducks swam in the stream. Just before the moon covered the sun entirely, the temperature dropped several degrees, the light turned eerie and suddenly it was dark with my glasses on, and off. Wow!
That experience is a metaphor for how our individual “lens” influences our perception: People who didn’t know they needed special glasses wrote off the eclipse as a virtual non-event, while many of us who were prepared had the most awe inspiring and spiritual experience of our lives.
Looking through my lens today at the state of our country and the world, I wonder why the populace is not in an uproar demanding an end to nuclear brinksmanship; requiring that climate change receive the serious attention it requires as a threat to our survival, and reining in a president who corrupts our founding ideals in “playing to his base,” while throwing our millennial population in fear for their lives.
Among the tools that we can press on urgently: Rep Ted Lieu has a bill in Congress restricting a first nuclear strike. Every one of us could take it upon ourselves to call our members of congress and our senators this week and ask them to have that conversation, because any use of nuclear force is a no-win for humanity.
If you know that much of the suffering and death caused by Hurricane Harvey was predictable since Texas got an F in the National Climate Readiness Report (California got an A!) would you want to know what grade your state got and call your elected officials about it? Check your status here.
President Trump’s Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has come back from his “review” of national monuments with a recommendation to gut several of them. We know the president has spent his life “acquiring” real estate, but it is wholly unacceptable for him to take from us what has already been placed in public ownership. It’s comparable to one parent raiding the children’s agreed-upon educational fund to satisfy some personal craving. Are you willing to demand of the president that he protect our public lands treasury instead of raiding it? Multiple petitions abound on the web.
Because we were wearing the appropriate lens, our little group watched spellbound as the eclipse took over the sun.
“We should say a prayer out loud together when the sun is covered,” I suggested. “Let’s say the one everbody knows, the Lord’s Prayer.’
So as our little glen went dark, a dozen throaty voices rang out in recognition:
“Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name….”
We finished that and sang together, “How great thou art.”
As the moon shifted east, the first light of the sun burst out in a stunning explosion of the richest yellow light I have ever seen – the diamond ring effect. To this day that remains the biggest part of the eclipse for me. I felt as if I was reborn at the beginning of time – the first time a ray separated itself from the source. The profound experience coincided with my 66th birthday.
I don’t know what lens you’re looking through at the state of our country and the world, but I hope my perspective helps wake you up to the fact that there’s more happening around us all the time, and we have to be aware in order to appreciate and respond to it. Appreciation and a sense of responsibility leads to the desire to affect things for the better, including protecting the future for our vulnerable young contributing country men and women.
This is what’s expected of citizens of these free United States. Our forebears labored for our freedom. For God’s sake, please check your lens and do something to protect it.