Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.
On August 21st, 2017, a word I’d heard but never used sort of sprang up into my mouth, where I uttered it many, many times: TOTALITY.
Everywhere I went people were saying that word!
Totality. Referring to that narrow band of geography, spreading across the United States, that fell completely into the shadow caused by the solar eclipse.
Like a status symbol I never knew was attainable or even existed, I was suddenly one of the millions who were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and to have the clouds (literally) part and reveal the sun, fully eclipsed by the moon. Totality.
It was very cool. I hadn’t even been expecting much of the event, but watching the world around me rapidly descend into nighttime was like something out of a global disaster movie! It was somehow palpable, pervasive. It was darkness that clings to you.
I was instantly transported back to ancient Egypt. To the showdown between God and Pharaoh, to Moses stretching out his hand and bringing sudden darkness on the land. This was not just a heavy cloud cover kind of darkness. This was, as God puts it, “darkness that can be felt”.
A plague of totality.
I experienced 3 minutes of it, and felt a little relief when the light began to return. I can’t imagine what 3 days of that would have felt like, knowing God was punishing you.
Some folks feel that way. That God is punishing us. Can you recall a moment when everybody you knew was walking around in the dark at the same time? When it seemed like the whole Earth had crawled up inside a shadow?
September 11th comes to mind. And our world today can feel like the new Dark Ages. There are so many scary, hateful signs of despair, whole swaths of us that are living in the shadows. Many turn their eyes towards heaven, and blame God for the dark.
Darkness is so often portrayed as something to be feared and dreaded, but on August 21st, 2017, I experienced the thrill of life on planet Earth, in its totality. We praised God, even in the dark!
During this totality, what I heard were screams of joy coming from a neighbor’s front yard. A jubilant firework being shot off across town. We whooped and hollered and stared right at the sun for a few moments. This was a once in a lifetime experience that was shared by those “in the zone” and those hundreds of miles away.
Let us remember that God created darkness along with the light. God is not out to punish us, or banish us, or deprive us from joy. God created the sun and the moon and the earth. God created the universe in its totality, and all the many lives who inhabit it,
not for us to revel in despair…
but to eclipse it with joy.
Have a great week,