The Trip to Totality – Eclipse
I’ve been working on writing the right blogpost for the finale of the Trip to Totality. It stretched to over 9000 words at one point. A little long for the average blogpost. But I do have an engaging narrative. I thought I’d post an excerpt and post the promised pictures.
In the book American Eclipse by David Baron, I read the account of Ephraim Miller and it put me to be in the mind of a community gripped by superstitious fear.
When the eclipse of 1878 came it drove a man, Ephraim Miller, to murder his family so they wouldn’t have to face the coming wrath of Jesus. Others panicked, fell down on their knees and prayed in terror. They cried in despair. I’ve imagined what it must’ve been like for those going about their day and the sun begins to dim. The first moment we detect, but feel it must be a passing cloud, or we distrust our senses, because it is so abnormal – the sun dimming in a clear sky.
The others begin to look around. We see the crescents of sun light cutting the shadows of leaves. What is happening? A shadow begins to creep across the sun. What is so powerful to cover the sun? What can we do once the sun is gone? The temperature starts to drop and we feel the coldness our life will become. This is the end of times and we will die a cold hungering death without the light of the Lord.
In the moment of totality, in the darkness, what despair fills us? We look straight into the shadow with the ring of fire around it, wavering in the darkness. The birds fall silent. The cows lay down in the field. The temperature drops 15°. What promises will we make to God to bring the sun back? What prayers are being said around us? Who among us wonders how their life has brought about God’s displeasure and which start blaming others, searching for scapegoats to torture? Do we hear the crying of babies or is it the collective wailing of a civilization brought to a sudden end? The loss of God, the loss hope empties us and twists the guts. Life is ending.
Deliverance, as it turns out, is only minutes away. The shadow slips away by degrees and soon we cannot look up anymore without it burning out our eyes. But we don’t care. Tears stream in relief. The joy of salvation. Our prayers have been heard. Will all our promises to God be forgotten? Will we fall back into the comfort of the sun’s routine as regular as the migrations of birds and the cycles of the moon, although we did not recognize the dark face of the new moon as it cast its shadow as it traversed the disk of the sun.
Ironic how many thought they’d be judged wanting instead of being welcomed into Heaven. What madness seized the people because some preacher had told them divine judgment was coming. If only they’d listened to scientists instead of a charlatan.