Monday, August 21, 2017

Thoughts on the eclipse

Some thoughts on today’s eclipse-

I decided I wanted to see it in totality, and since Florence had only around 99%, I had to go somewhere else. Cathy and I scoped out the Santee Indian Mound a couple of weeks ago, went at the same time as today’s event. Found it to be perfect. Traffic down I-95 was crowded, but never bad. Can’t say the same thing for coming back. Cathy and I decided to take the back country roads home. It gave us time to talk about the eclipse and other things.

If you haven’t been to the Santee Wildlife Reserve and Indian Mound (and Fort Watson), and you live in the area, it’s worth the time. Maybe not in the heat of the summer, but it is a great place. We figured it would not be crowded, and honestly, it wasn’t. There were several hundred people spread throughout the reserve, but no place really crowded. Before the eclipse started, it was fairly quiet and peaceful. There were people talking, children playing, a few dogs running around. There was no loud music, no drinking, just folks getting to know each other. We were from all over the east coast- Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York. People were sharing stories of how they got there, about other things to see and do in the area, and sharing glasses, solar binoculars, and solar telescopes. We were all different ethnicities, and probably a wide variety of political persuasions, but none of that mattered. We were there to see something magnificent up in the sky. What united us was greater than what divided us.

The sky started out cloudy, but by 1:30 it was clear blue! We watched as the moon made its way across the sun. Right before totality, maybe 3 seconds before, when we could see the first diamond ring- which we had been talking about- the crowd moaned with delight. Then when totality came, everyone cheered. You could see three streams of gasses coming out from the corona, just about equally spaced around the sun. To the north west we could see a few stars. Cathy pointed out one of things I had not thought about- for 360 degrees, a full circle, the clouds reflected the sun like it does at dusk. Those red clouds that we usually see only in the west, were all around us. The temperature cooled down about 20 degrees, and it was like an early evening gathering with some close friends.

We watched the diamond ring show up again 2 minutes and 36 seconds later. As the sun started showing up again, everybody broke into singing George Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun. Seems like everyone knew it. We were smiling, shaking hands, talking about how good it was to be there. I’ve been in a few worship services like that. It changes your heart.

Of course, the traffic was horrendous getting out. What was easy coming in was a parking lot going out. But that was okay. We were all taking our time, letting each other in the line, talking to people on the side of the road, offering water and soft drinks to people, wishing them a good trip home. Some even talked about trying to make it to Carbondale in 2024. We will see.

As Cathy and I drove home, two thought came to me. The first is the opening lines from Psalm 19-

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the handiwork of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

And the second was this- what united us was greater than what divided us.

God, that it would always be so, I prayed.

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