Reflection Masthead
Issue 158 - Solar Eclipse - August 2017

We did not travel to the path of totality to observe the solar eclipse on August 21. 
We reflect on the wonder of those who did, and on our own 
memories of partial solar eclipses we have seen in the past.
Catching up to Creation

This week's total solar eclipse in the United States should fill us all with new wonder at the majesty and glory of the created world. One newspaper reporter wrote, "As if by the machinations of some great astral clock, the magic of the total solar eclipse began right on schedule." 

Composite image, courtesy of NASA

Well ... yeah! For centuries, the goal of every clockmaker has been to approximate the accuracy of celestial time, the "great astral clock," if you will. While we should rejoice that scientists can accurately chart and predict solar eclipses, we should not fool ourselves into thinking that somehow the universe is following our schedule.

Video after video taken in the path of totality shows people gasping, applauding, cheering as the moon obscured the face of the sun and darkness fell briefly in mid-day. Some observers spoke of it as mind-blowing, others as a spiritual experience. Interesting: a total solar eclipse is a perfectly natural event, totally predictable. And still totally awe-inspiring.

"A tree gives glory to God simply by being a tree." As does the moon, simply be being the moon, following its orbit. As does the sun, simply by being the sun. The rare event of a total solar eclipse simply gives us a deeper glimpse into this constant wonder.

The heavens bespeak the glory of God,

The firmament ablaze, a text of his works.

Dawn whispers to sunset

Dark to dark the word passes: glory  glory.

               Daniel Berrigan, Uncommon Prayer

                                                                           --by Bill
The Divine Spark
       I don't remember the day nor the year but I remember sitting on a berm in my front yard looking through homemade 'eclipse glasses' my brother made for me. It was the sudden cool breeze and ethereal lights of an eerie color spectrum that stamped an indelible sense of awe in my soul. I was probably 5-ish, maybe 7, but around that age for sure.
       As I consider that moment of a partial eclipse in my childhood, I wonder if the awe might have been the door opening for divine energy to pour into my soul. Many times, through adulthood, when I prayerfully sense a deep spiritual consolation, there is a similar sense of divine spark. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes that there is a divine spark in all of creation, as do some Jewish writings. Our Christian scripture relates the apostle Paul being struck by a blinding light, brighter than the noonday sun, on the way to Damascus. There is the light on the face of Moses, so dazzling that he covered his face with a veil. During the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John experience an intense light emanating from Jesus and enveloping the disciples so that they share in his mystical glory.
        A Benedictine abbess, Hildegaard of Bingen (1098-1179) recounts an experience of the divine spark that poured into the depths. "In the year 1141 . . . a burning light of extraordinary brightness coming from heaven poured into my entire mind. Like a flame that does not burn but fires, it inflamed my entire heart and entire breast, just like the sun that warms an object with its rays."
       At the time of our August 21 eclipse, we are invited to share in the glory of God. How many of the eclipse watchers, especially the ones in the path of totality, experienced that sense of divine spark? As reported in the media, the experience left many of them speechless. Divine sparks do that. Eclipse watchers are already planning for the next event, the Path of Totality, in 2024. Must we wait until then? Might we, rather, through contemplative prayer, put our souls in the path of totality, totally surrendering to God, totally opening the door to the divine spark?
                                  --by Jan

This video captures both the beauty of the eclipse and the excitment of the viewers.
It was filmed in Madras, Oregon, the town where Bill's parents lived at the end of their lives, and where they are buried.

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Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries



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