Open Road Press

Preparing for the Solar Eclipse

solar eclipseDid you hear yet? We’re due for a solar eclipse next week. How fun!

What’s the big deal?

Most people in the States already realize that we will “see” a solar eclipse swath a diagonal path across the US on August 21, 2017. This rare event has prompted much publicity. One local county at ground zero expects 170,000 visitors, which will nearly double its population, at least for a few hours. I hope they double the rate of pay for their law enforcement.

Last month, Debbie and I met an interesting woman hailing from Durham, North Carolina. We were cycling the Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia when we met her. She was on a break from her visit to the Green Bank Observatory. In her seventies, she was obviously well educated and took a keen interest in scientific matters. We speculated she could have had an academic affiliation with Duke University.

This month’s solar eclipse was the hot topic of our conversation with her. Our fellow traveler had already planned her itinerary to view the eclipse. She will be staying with a friend in South Carolina whose home lies beneath the total eclipse path.

Meanwhile, in Nashville, commentary about the eclipse has flooded the news. People are wondering where to go to experience the darkness, and what to expect. Debbie and I have even obtained our special viewing “glasses” courtesy of NASA and our local library.

More than meets the eye

Is the upcoming eclipse nothing more than an astrological event or a chance to learn more about the solar system? I suppose when something happens only once in a lifetime, people take note. However, I think there’s something more at work.

We tend to take for granted the greater world in which we live. The sun rises on cue every day. As expected, seasons come and go. Next week, however, the normal workings of the heavens will change just for a moment . . . well, maybe two minutes. In the middle of the day, certain places that lack man-made lighting will turn pitch black. And the temperature may drop. Those circumstances are unusual.

But this event acts as more than simply stargazing for the masses. It is an inherent reminder that there is more to the world – and to life – than our self-centered existence here on Earth. Our planet, after all, is merely one heavenly body among countless other ones. While it’s the sphere that defines our existence, allows us to function, and contains our physical being for all time, Earth is not the sole center of God’s created world. We know that from viewing the sky on a clear night or feeling the heat of the sun during the day – even though it is easy in our busy daily lives to forget the bigger picture.

The wonderment of this event may even cause one to think about life in other solar systems. Is there other life out there? Possibly, maybe even probably! If there is life in another solar system, I’m sure the One who created it – and us – is not surprised. The intelligent design – for as far as we can see and know – demonstrates that He’s much bigger than our relatively small world.

So, enjoy the event. I’m thankful it’s happening. It makes the whole world take note – and look up to consider things beyond Earth. I think that’s worthwhile. Who knows, it may even prompt people to weigh some important matters, such as their legacy in this life and their destiny in the one to come.

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