Monday, August 21, 2017

Why Does it Take an Eclipse to Get us to Look Up to the Heavens?

When God created the world, all the angels shouted for joy (Job 38:4-7). The God who sings over his creation is the God who rejoices in his works (Psalm 104:31). If God delights in the work of his hands, shouldn’t we? And shouldn’t the wonders of creation lead us to praise and thank him?


Middle Tennessee is in the eclipse zone. On August 21, my city will be inundated with people traveling from thousands of miles to witness a total eclipse, a rare event in which the moon obstructs the sun for several minutes.

Here’s how those who have experienced this phenomenon describe the moment:

The wind picks up a bit, and the temperature drops noticeably. Birds roost, evening insects come out, and the world prepares for sunset in the middle of the day. . . .

The sky surrounding the Sun will grow very dark very quickly. In real time, you will be able to see the deep blue turn to twilight blue, and then to bluish-black. Stars and planets will pop out of nowhere. Roosters will crow and insects will chirp as though night is falling. . . .

While the last bit of the sliver is shrinking, the Sun’s corona will start to come out. The last little bit of the Sun’s light will glare through valleys on the Moon, and will create a “bead” effect at the edge of the Moon’s disk. Around the edge of the Moon, the Sun’s corona will begin to glow, giving us the famous “diamond ring” effect. It lasts for only about 2-3 seconds, but it is stunning beyond words.

On videos of a total eclipse from other parts of the world, people cheer and clap when the moment occurs. It’s as if everyone is overcome by artistry of the Creator and feels the need to join in nature’s applause.

I’m going to watch the eclipse. I won’t try to capture it on film or on my phone because I want to enjoy the rarity of the moment for what it is. This will not happen again in my hometown in my lifetime, and I don’t want to see it through my camera. (I’m just praying it doesn’t rain!)

I will stop and pause for the eclipse. But this makes me wonder: Why don’t I do this more often? Am I as attuned as I should be to the glories that surround me all the time?

C. S. Lewis: Attuned to Wonder

This year, I’ve been reading through the letters of C. S. Lewis. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Lewis’s letters to his brother, serving in WWII, offered vivid descriptions of the land and sky. The level of detail in Lewis’s letters challenges me. He noticed things in his environment that I rarely see in mine, not because they’re not there, but because my eyes aren’t open.

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