After spending a long weekend in Wyoming to watch the total solar eclipse, I returned home knowing exactly what I do in the face of the miraculous.
Oh my God.
Wow. Oh my GOD.
OH my God.
Wow. Wow. Wow.
And then I sing. As loud as possible. For hours on end, giddy on adrenaline and gratitude.
Seeing the miraculous is nothing like looking at pictures that approximate it, but don’t do it justice. No picture accurately captures what I just witnessed. I had no idea that the reality of a total solar eclipse cannot be captured on film the same way it is experienced through our bodies. I expected to see the classic ring in a dark, black sky, but our eyes are not camera lenses. And, our bodies pick up much more information than a piece of glass ever could.
Standing amidst planetary forces is humbling and thrilling, to say the least. When you notice them. To suddenly detect a force previously unknown with your own limited perception is… well... wow.
As a total eclipse approaches, your body knows without a doubt that something is not right. The light is dimmer, but it still looks relatively normal. And yet something becomes odd. And that feeling grows until totality. I felt nausea. Others around me described the atmosphere as creepy. Really unsettling. Strange. It looks and feels sick.
Then, about 30 seconds on either side of the eclipse, it’s as if someone turns a giant dimmer switch on what should be normal day. Slowly, evenly, yet with terrifying speed, second by second, it gets darker. Before, your eyes could not detect the changes, but it suddenly becomes undeniable. A wall of shadow overtakes you and turns your world into a red ringed landscape. A 360 degree sunset.
You realize that what you’re witnessing is the movement of the moon around what you are living on, the earth, and though it makes sense in your head, you are grasping it, seeing it, feeling it, which is altogether different, and the immensity overwhelms every circuit of your body. It is undeniable. It is unquestionably steady and unimaginably out of your control. It is an ancient force that has effected every one of us for as long as we’ve been here, and though you’ve known about it, this is the first time your body has felt it, the first time your eyes have seen it- this completely normal movement which suddenly seems so unnatural, unusual, and miraculous. And, indescribable. I keep trying to describe the pace of it, and I can’t. It is unlike anything I am familiar with.
There’s a host of things to witness during totality- the disappearance of wind, the 20 degree drop in temperature, the surrounding color, the blue sky still visible, the fact that you can see planets and you quickly try to name them, the ring - that amazing unearthly ring - the beautiful wondrous ring with a texture of feathers? clouds? hair? What is it even like? And it’s so much bigger than expected. And the moon, which is suddenly 3 dimensional rather than flat. So small, like a pin in the sky. No. Wait. So large. So not like the flat smiling white moon you see every day. It has a shape. A curve. Topography.
And the changing world at your feet - where are the birds? Why is it so silent? And the changing world in the distance - sunlight rocketing toward you from the west?
And then the reappearance of the whitest, purest, most angelic light my eyes have ever beheld. Again, nothing equates. Nothing is close to the color of that first flash of light. For a blessed second, just a moment, you can behold it with your naked eyes. Comfortably. Without any pain. You could see a speck of pure radiance. Just a taste of brightness, the color of sunlight. But, I have never seen that color of white before. Laser-like and yet stronger. More than starlight. Whiter than daylight. More brilliant than … wow. The color simply doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Miraculous is the best way I can describe it.
Miracles cannot be captured, they can only be experienced.