As everyone knows, millions of Americans were transfixed recently by the appearance of a total solar eclipse. This long-awaited event was hyped to the moon and back (ha!) and so it was nearly impossible to miss. And it was as if we were all planning for a natural disaster rather than an eclipse.
In fact, everything having to do with the eclipse proved to be cosmic. There was a cosmic run on glasses, a cosmic run on water, and a cosmic run on gas!
My family and I gassed up and — with plenty of water — drove south to join friends in Salem, which was in the zone of complete totality. We gathered on their patio and waited for the universe to work its magic. When the moon finally came into the path of the sun, I found that it was an experience that almost defies description. First, you could see the moon's shadow racing past in waves on its way East. Then there were the small crescent-shaped shadows cast onto the pavement as the moon began to obscure the sun. There was an almost unworldly light, as though the earth were placed on a giant dimmer that brought us slowly into the dark. The quality and color of the light, a muted golden glow, was unlike anything we had ever seen. The effect was eerie, to say the least, and I suddenly found myself shivering. In fact most of us at our gathering had a physical reaction at some point, which surprised us. Something absolutely wondrous was happening and our bodies were reacting. Some shed tears, others felt unsteady or got goosebumps and chills.
Just as the moon completely covered the sun, we were able to take off our glasses and view the corona, and as the moon continued moving, we saw the red diamond ring at the very top. It was awesome, in the true sense of that word, to behold. Seeing the earth, the moon and the sun line up so perfectly set us to wondering about creation, which added to what was already a spiritual experience.
Shortly after the eclipse was over, we adjourned to a TV set and watched as others across the United States experienced what we had just seen. Doing that gave us a true feeling of unity and community with our part of the world. It was as though time stopped for all of us all across the U.S.
Next up on the TV, unfortunately, was coverage of the terrific traffic jams between Salem and Wilsonville. So we waited a few hours and headed off on our back-country, usually carless, route home. We naively thought that most people wouldn't know about this particular route, so we set out with confidence. Much to our chagrin, apparently the whole world and its mother did know about it. So our usual 40 minute trip took three and a half hours, but we all agreed that it was worth it.
I'm told that it will be a long time before another total eclipse will happen across the U.S., so this was a special and rare opportunity. Those of us watching felt both privileged and blessed.