a total eclipse on spaceship Earth

I was fortunate to enjoy some time with my family last week. We headed south with my extended family to view the total solar eclipse. If you’ve been living under a (dark) rock, here’s a journalist’s description of what just happened across our country last week.

Yes, we were that nerdy family that made special shirts just for the eclipse! Here’s my daughter taking a peek before the full total eclipse:

We had 6 kids to keep occupied for hours in a hot, crowded field (another joy that comes with parenthood!). So with the help of some binoculars, we took turns drawing outlines of the eclipse as the moon “gobbled” more and more of the sun.

Gobble, gobble, gobble.

The moment of the full solar eclipse was only 2.5 minutes. I really struggle to put words to that time. In my book it was comparable to other “peak” or singular moments of life… a marriage ceremony, a rare spiritual experience of transcendence, even those moments of crisis or loss where the full weight of the human experience is made plain. In other words, it was beyond words. Nor do I have a photo.

Even still, my sad attempt at fitting this experience “in six words,” as we are wont to these days, is thus:

sweeping singularity

spaceship Earth

I cried

Since we had made such a long trip, we also took time to explore the Smoky Mountains. As these things go, once the kids are fed, dressed, and shuffled around in the cars, even these beautiful moments felt way too brief.

Back at The Center at Donaldson, folks were able to view moments of the eclipse  through special glasses (though the sun was never completely blocked out this far north).

I came home and looked at data from my new rooftop solar power array (that’s another post). Enough solar radiation was blocked, even in northern Indiana, to show up in the data:

The red “pizza slice” of decreased solar power.



If you are a little bummed by missing out on being in the center of the path of totality, don’t worry, there’s one coming through central Indiana in April of 2024 (here’s the map). Me? I’m hoping to get to Texas. I just can’t risk a typically cloudy Midwestern spring day. It’d be too heartbreaking!

Upon returning home, I found the nation quickly gripped by the massive flooding occurring in Houston, due to the function of 50″ of rain from hurricane Harvey and the land-use decisions made in a quickly sprawling metropolis. At some level, it reminded me of the eclipse experience, and I wrote this:

The indescribable beauty of watching the moon and sun dance, 2 minutes of visual symphony, nighttime at midday. Fields of thousands of strangers screaming and howling like wolves.

The fragility of human infrastructure in the face of the unrelenting forces of nature. Motorboats filled with searching eyes, plying the churning waters to rescue complete strangers.

Both events brought people together and reminded us that there is one single spaceship Earth.

And we’re all on it.

3 Replies to “a total eclipse on spaceship Earth”

  1. Sr. Shirley

    What an incredibly awesome moment to experience. I’ve seen partial eclipses but to see the moment of totality? That would be grand. We watched on TV the entire time from west to east coast. That was certainly amazing too! Set a photo of the progression on my Desktop. LOVE it.
    Thoughts,and prayers go to all in Texas esp. this Sunday as we have a national day of prayer.

  2. Sister Pauline

    Some of us watched it here and it was truly amazing! To be in a place where the darkness occurred had to be beyond imagination! Thanks for sharing your experience with us! I am interested in knowing how the children experienced it. Can you share anything about that?


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