March 7, 1970. It was a Saturday and I was 8 years old. I was playing in the front yard when my Dad came outside with a piece of paper with a hole in it.
It was weird because my Dad never came outside to do stuff with me.
He told me that we were going to watch the solar eclipse.
I knew what that was because my teacher had told us about it at school. I didn’t remember much she said except, “Don’t look at it or you’ll go blind!”
So, my Dad had figured out how to watch it without going blind. He poked a hole in a piece of paper and held it so that the sun shone through the hole onto the sidewalk.
So, my Dad and I stood on the sidewalk staring at a bright circle on the sidewalk until we began to see the black circle overtake the brightness. I was awestruck! I was watching – on my sidewalk – something that was happening in the heavens.
When the black had almost completely covered the sun I looked up. It wasn’t complete darkness, but the light was a weird color and my eyes felt like they didn’t know how to focus. Everything got quiet. I noticed that no birds were chirping, no dogs barking, nothing. It felt weird. The world had gotten strange and unfamiliar.It was exciting!
I looked back at the circle on the sidewalk and watched as the world slowly became normal again.
My Dad and I exchanged a few words like, “Well, that was something.” And he went back inside.
That eclipse in 1970 was a major deal for me. For one, it was so important that my Dad made sure that I experienced it – and I experienced it with him. An occurrence as rare as an eclipse. And two, I had the experience of the world getting weird – if the sun could go dark than ANYTHING can happen. How exciting!
Since then I’m a sucker for any astronomical event. Falling stars, comets, lunar eclipse, blood moons, anything. I’m up for it! Yes, I would have been trailing along after the Wise Men following that crazy star.
So, tonight, 47 years later, I’m standing in my bare feet in the middle of my street, freezing to death looking at the outer edges of the moon with binoculars for any trace of shadowing. I’m also scanning the sky looking for a green comet that’s supposed to be visible with binoculars. I see nothing. I go back in shivering. But not disappointed.
Because I know, up in the heavens, something amazing is happening. Even though I may not be able to see it, I know that the giants in the sky are moving, choreographed by God. And in any given moment, alignments can happen, paths can cross and something amazing, a once in a lifetime event can happen.
On any average Saturday, the unexpected can happen. The day can suddenly become a once in a lifetime event and from then on out your whole world can be different.
Is it just me or does that give you hope?
Here’s a link to the news report of the 1970’s solar eclipse. It’s fun to watch if you love nostalgia.