Sorry for my delay in posting this—I took last week off, but I still wanted to post about the eclipse because our family loved it so much. Thanks for being patient with me!
For a solid month, the upcoming eclipse dominated the front page of our local newspaper. The articles had a common refrain: Prepare now for the influx of heaven-watchers about to descend on our town.
That meant that a week before the eclipse, there was no milk or bananas in grocery stores. People filled their cars with gas, and some bought barrels for storing water just in case.
City officials and local clergy encouraged people to have a stash of cash on hand. They encouraged us to make an emergency plan. They claimed phone signals would be overloaded as 500,000 people drove into town and urged us to locate the closest landline—even if it were at a neighbor’s house. We were told fires were likely as out-of-towners camped in yellow fields and that traffic would crawl for those foolish enough to venture out that weekend.
So a lot of us braced for the worst, watched for signs of unrelenting traffic, secured our houses against squatters, wrote wills, and hunkered down or fled town altogether.
But the crowds didn’t show up. Whatever crowds there were just shuttled on up the road, leaving ours like a ghost town. I’m talking green lights for miles on what are usually the busiest thoroughfares in town. I’m talking maybe five cars waiting at major intersections. I’m talking gas stations and businesses shut down for … no reason at all.
But what the newspaper articles didn’t tell us was that the eclipse would be an event that would change our lives in a spiritual way. In the moment of totality, the group of 50 I was with burst into spontaneous applause. It was beautiful and mystical and made you feel like there’s just a lot out there that we don’t understand and that we are darn small. It was our chance to see things we’ll never see again, like a 360-degree “sunset” and Baily’s beads and shadow bands.
The eclipse was science at its finest, and all the articles in the world couldn’t tell you that. It could only be experienced first-hand for the one minute and 46 seconds the sun ducked behind the moon. •