I had not mentally prepared for anything. It was something to see…so I’d heard. My husband told me that I would be affected by it. I was non-committal. We changed our plans last minute to go to another city instead of Festus as it was getting tons of traffic, to a small town aptly called Union. Foreshadowing.
Getting to Union, MO was a non-event. There were wonderful winding roads to enjoy the drive, little to no traffic, and even having arrived at our destination…it was quiet, quaint, and controlled. In a park, right next to a University, we saw folks setting up, some with huge telescopes too. It was hot outside…probably around 94 degrees and bright sunshine, so we avoided getting out of the car.
Through double sun roofs of the car, our family peered to see the sun while wearing our solar eclipse glasses. They cut out all the glare and the miscellaneous rays, exposing the raw star by itself, ever so clearly. If you looked elsewhere with the glasses, you saw nothing. It was surreal. A little magical world just inside those glasses. It made me think of all the things we miss in life just because we can’t “see” them.
As the eclipse continued, we watched how the moon slowly covered up the sun bit by bit. Each time, a sharper crescent would emerge, reminding us of monthly moon phases except with a yellow coloring instead of the white brilliance of the moon. It was neat…but something familiar. I would even call it underwhelming if you were one of the folks only able to see the partial solar eclipse from other cities in the U.S. What’s all the hype about…you might even think.
As we finally got out of the air-conditioned car 15 minutes before totality, we noticed that the temperature had dropped. It wasn’t cold but visible cooler. It was pleasant. We looked around the sparsely filled park, and started to see the soft shades of twilight begin to settle in. It was peaceful. The moments just before crescendo when you don’t know what to expect …you are just there in the moment.
As the moon finally descended to cover most of the sun with a perfect circle, folks cheered. “You can take off your glasses now,” they advised. Removing them, I saw the most overwhelming sight I have ever seen.
I had not been prepared for this. It was other worldly. I felt like I was in the middle of some science fiction movie waiting for a planet to explode or something. It was haunting, beautiful, hauntingly beautiful. I was witness to intense celestial beauty, never seen in our world. I felt myself choke up…. tears started streaming down my face. “It’s so beautiful. It’s so crazy beautiful,” we all said over and over.
My eyes worshipped totality. It was darkness surrounded by a brilliant thin light, the breathtaking corona around the moon, and godly rays coming off it. But more than anything, it was alive. No still picture could ever capture this. Why doesn’t every person come out to see this? It’s magical, ethereal, out of this world. Literally. Now I understood why there were eclipse chasers. I mentally signed up to be one.
The solar eclipse made me feel inconsequential and godly all at once. We are nothing, living our simple lives while the universe carries on with brutal acts of beauty whether we notice or not. I feel like I shared a secret with the Universe. That if it can offer such a beautiful sight, it also has everything else figured out, and I just need to enjoy life and notice the beauty once in a while. Because when I do, it reminds me of the perfection of it all. The connected nature of it all.
Afterwards, I was completely spent, like I ran a marathon. My eyes hurt despite the glasses. My head throbbed. I just wanted to sleep and remember the image, even in my sleep. I cried for a good 10 minutes after getting in the car, the after effects of being in the presence of the supernatural. My perspective had changed for a lifetime. It was an immense privilege to see the greatest show
on from Earth.