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Before I saw it featured on the cover of our local newspaper, I had no idea that a solar eclipse would be taking place on April 8th. And it wasn’t until I saw the library flier announcing library closures for a full week around that date that I realized what a big deal this event was to be in our little corner of central Texas. Apparently our town was within the much-publicized Path of Totality, the thin strip of land where we would have views of the moon entirely blocking out the sun. It was predicted that over a million visitors would travel by car to a Texas location near us in order to witness the moments in which our land would be plunged into mid-day twilight as the moon completely covered the sun.

In the days leading up to the big event we observed an increase in local traffic, largely due to camping trailers and colorful buses carrying larger groups to select viewing locations. Several local businesses announced they would have limited hours or even close completely during eclipse week. Traffic cones marked off roads and grassy patches as “non-viewing” zones, and we noticed a heavier police presence patrolling the surrounding towns.

But as the day drew closer, weather forecasters began predicting cloudy skies and even rain on the big day. Many feared the months of preparation would have been in vain. I was a little disheartened that we could miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view a total eclipse, but I did not experience the devastation I could sense from others. Unlike the eclipse-enthusiasts, I had not spent months or years anticipating this event. (Honestly, I thought all the eclipse hype was just that—hype.)

The afternoon of April 8th was indeed cloudy, but not so overcast that we couldn’t see the sky. As the big moment approached, our family of five (and a half) gathered up our eclipse glasses and shuffled into the yard to observe the moment. We lay out on the grass, glasses in place, and watched the clouds part and the moon slowly slide across the sun, gradually blotting out its light. We marveled at how dark the sky was becoming, how the sliver of sunlight was shrinking. I began to experience that ineffable sense of wonder and amazement espoused by fervent eclipse chasers. This moment was indeed surreal.

It was just after 1:30 when the moon landed at its central spot and the sun was entirely obscured. We shed our glasses and gazed, safely, directly into the sun. A thin ring of light shone from behind the moon’s black sphere, and we all gasped and oohed and ahed at this scene that our eyes were witnessing but our brains could not entirely compute. The supernatural halo stunned us with its splendor, and even our young children—prancing around our yard in excitement—could recognize the magnificence of what we were witnessing. Suddenly, the hype all made sense.

So many thoughts flooded my mind as we observed this glorious event. Thoughts of compassion for ancient peoples who witnessed similar occurrences and were likely terrified by such unexplained phenomena. Thoughts of amazement that scientists can now explain and predict such occurrences. Thoughts of excited solidarity with the millions of modern-day witnesses with whom I was sharing this astronomical marvel. Thoughts of worship for the One who created the Heavens and the Earth, who set the stars into place and Who has known from the beginning of time that His earthly children would be treated to this celestial spectacle on April 8, 2024.

And in my heart, there was gratitude for this Master Designer who created the skies AND the beings beneath them; who is responsible for the rotation of the earth AND the beating of my heart; who carries a magnificence that is grander than all of creation while also manifesting the love and tenderness to care for each one of the billions of created souls on earth.

Before that moment on April 8, I had no inkling of the awe and inspiration I would experience at the sight of sun and moon’s celestial dance. The Lord met me in that moment, as He can meet any one of us in any moment, reminding me of His goodness and His greatness. On that sacred afternoon, our world paused as the world rarely pauses to marvel as the “heavens declare[d] the glory of God and the skies proclaim[ed] the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). How great is His creation. How great is our Creator!

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