We decided last minute that we were going for totality and in a nutshell, it was nothing short of spectacular.
As I have reflected back on the events of the day, words that accurately describe the eclipse and what we were able to witness and feel seem to elude me. Of course our family had a blast, the kids were great and my husband and I secretly geek out over space stuff, so we were pretty pumped, but this was different.
Let me rewind to a few weeks prior, and recap today and I will try to unpack and perhaps convey my thoughts from the day…
As a self-proclaimed space nerd, I have read for weeks about the eclipse. I have studied details, read astrophysicists blogs about things to look for and stalked all things NASA for updates and new information. We ordered glasses early and focused on teaching our kids solar eclipse basics like “your eyes may spontaneously combust if you remove the glasses.”
When one of my boys informed someone that their eyes may turn to flames if they looked at the sun, I felt as if my job was complete.
P.S. Baby below was under the shade and not actually looking at the sun. Purely for photo op purposes and the big kids were closely supervised and only one was allowed glasses at a time while one of us was with them. Safety first, y’all! 😉
As the days til the eclipse event drew near, I took social media polls on who was leaving their kids in school – or not, and I debated if I would be upset if we didn’t TRY – just TRY to get to totality.
It sounded fun, but unpredictable weather, kids school, drive time and potential burning eye balls and all just had me back and forth.
I continued to read and toil about what to do. My husband had the day off and I knew I could flex my schedule if needed.
In all honestly, I came across an article and it basically said something along the lines of “while partiality is super cool, it’s like it never reaches a climax. There is never the culmination of the event and you are kind of left waiting and wanting something more.”
So yay for cool and fun, but left with a “now what” type feeling. At that moment, all clicked and my husband and I decided late Sunday night, we would let the kids skip school and go for it. Our game plan would be to head towards Blue Ridge, GA and then go east towards Blairsville, GA. I figured we wouldn’t go too far past there just due to traffic, time, etc.
Travel was easy and we found the perfect place at a ball park to set up camp. We had a tent that provided shade for the kids and baby, there was a bathroom nearby and we took lunch to eat. We arrived about 20 minutes before the initial phases of the eclipse would begin and we spent those minutes taking the obligatory selfies and family pictures. The kids ran around and played and occasionally came over to put on their glasses to look at the progress of the moon.
The partial phases were really neat and the kids ooohed and aaahed as the moons shadow was cast across the sun. Clouds were creeping in, however, the sky was still open enough to get a view as we crept closer to totality.
Side note – on the way up, my real camera would not turn on. Boo for that, but thanks to my hubs who documented the day iPhone style.
I mentioned that I had read quite a bit online prior to the event, but nothing really could prepare me for what happened next. Just like the articles predicted, the sky began to darken and the mid-day sunset type atmosphere began to occur. Temperatures dropped and crickets chirped. We were not in a location where there was any other wildlife, but others have noted animals acting weird, bats coming out and the like.
Before we knew it crowds were cheering and you could see Bailey’s Beads around the circumference of the sun and then the umbra.
I honestly don’t remember anything else. I didn’t look for stars, I didn’t think about planets, my gaze was fixated on the total eclipse.
I think I squealed for my kids to come take off their glasses and I remember asking over and over if my husband took a picture and then gasping at one point that I just could not believe I was seeing this.
It was this eerily, peaceful, heavenly, surreal feeling and my heart was pounding. I had butterflies in my stomach and chills all over. I wanted to freeze time and just take it all in.
Then as fast as it began, it was over and the lights started to come up. It was too fast and I wanted to rewind and hit the replay button.
I looked around, counted my kids who were back to playing, shoved glasses back on them and caught my breath.
A minute and 58 seconds of pure amazement and done.
I found myself in awestruck wonder and just thanking the Lord for the glory of the day. I had no words.
I repeatedly thanked Him for His majesty, thanked Him for the chance that we were able to experience it all and then just wondered how He is so creative. I found myself just thinking about Psalm 19 and how truly “the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim His handiwork.” I was on cloud nine. (Sorry, punny?! Clouds. Ha.)
I was thinking about Psalm 113 which reads, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised…” and thinking about all that light in scripture represents. My mind was spinning with all that had occurred, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks….
It was as if the Lord gently just put His arm around my shoulder and said, “Hey kid! This is what totality IN ME feels like. Don’t settle for partiality. Don’t get caught up in the pieces of day to day. Don’t take in partial bits of me in your life when you can live in the peace and amazement of TOTALITY everyday!”
Y’all. That is so, so, so good and I needed it. I could feel His presence in that moment and knew exactly what He meant.
It was like when your Mom says, “Don’t stick your finger in the candle flame because it will burn you…” and then you do and you feel it and you get it and know exactly what she means – one of those types of understandings.
The totality of the eclipse was all around us – encompassing and tangible; yet free and majestic all in one. It really made no sense, but was such perfection.
As for my walk with Christ, I do feel like I am all in. I mean, I pray, have quiet times, listen to worship, do devotionals, am in small groups, etc. Good, right?
That said, I know there are things that I struggle with (ahem, control, comparison, vanity, pride, selfishness, anxiety, and the list could go on and on and on) and there are things I do to just check off of my list or things I do just cause I am supposed to do them. There are places that I know that I settle for partiality. Some perhaps unintentionally, and some because I am not intentional enough.
Partiality today was not bad. It was a really cool effect and was certainly fun to see.
That said, after being in totality, seeing the effects, understanding what the culmination means and feeling the tangible differences of the total eclipse, partiality paled in comparison.
I do not want to settle for partiality with the Lord, when I could have totality. Today was an amazing gift and He used the eclipse to show me this in my life.
I feel like I have a lot to unpack as it relates to this and will continue to pray about it and seek Him in it all.
Phew. Thanks for walking through that with me. Its been such a great day. I hope all of my eclipse viewing friends had awesome experiences! It took us just over 4.5 hours to make it home and my kids were exhausted but happy.