On Monday the entire nation stopped to watch the sun disappear behind the moon—the first solar eclipse that could be seen in all of the contiguous United States since 1918. In centuries past an eclipse could be seen as ominous or troubling. But beyond the snarled traffic in the places where the eclipse was total and the persistent warnings of “DON’T LOOK AT THE SUN!” the eclipse didn’t cause general panic or chaos—actually, quite the opposite.
People were excited, delighted, and a bit awestruck by what they observed. I heard stories of people sharing viewing devices with each other and showing one another how to make pinhole shadow devices. There seemed to be a general agreement to help children take advantage of this rare opportunity without letting them endanger their health.
Everyone was filled up with useful knowledge, and they were quick to make comments about their experiences. Even the jokes about the celestial happenings were kindly and not mean-spirited.
Our best photographers took amazing photographs. Millions of us were inspired to share their experiences on social media. And while the event was unfolding across the nation we felt like the global village that we actually are.
The eclipse reminds us of how small and fragile we are in a very large universe. Of how short our time is here in the context of events that can be charted and predicted even though they are hundreds of years apart. Of the amazing power of the sun.
It got us looking up together at the great mystery and wonder that is our natural world. It provided us an opportunity to share a truly amazing experience with each other that is unshaped and unfazed by human intervention. It provided a reminder of the human family that inhabits spaceship Earth.
Perhaps we can keep nurturing that wonder and appreciation for the world we share that the eclipse revealed. We can honor and treasure the lives that we live and our capacity to care for one another. We can use a few minutes of sun-watching together to serve as a reminder that our individual lives are inextricably connected with each other.
And we can remember that when we come together in a mission of healing and health, it is good for our communities and good for each other and good for the planet, too. The sun shines brightly on what we do. Just as it should.