Waiting for the shadow of the moon

I’ve never made a bucket list. I am much more inclined to live in the moment, to take one day at a time. However, if I had composed a bucket list, right at the top would be viewing a solar eclipse like the one happening next Monday.

I’ve been fascinated by astronomy since I was a boy. I watched the Apollo space program on television and wanted to be an astronaut. I learned about the planets in our solar system (back when Pluto was still a planet) and read about comets and meteors, stars and galaxies, quasars and supernovas, and all the other fascinating things to be found in the heavens. Part of the appeal of Star Trek and Star Wars is the dream of interplanetary travel, although the reality is likely to be far closer to 2001: Space Odyssey. I have seen a comet, experienced several partial solar eclipses, and watched lunar eclipses from beginning to end. I’ve gotten out of bed at 4 a.m. to watch meteors. The coming eclipse will round out years of watching the sky and marveling at God’s creation.

No doubt many Christian writers and speakers are trying to find spiritual metaphors in the eclipse of the sun. A few are even making apocalyptic predictions based on this perfectly ordinary event. Aside from the classic contrast of light and darkness, I don’t see that the eclipse has much to tell us about redemption or new life in Christ. On the other hand, such an eclipse does speak of the wonder of God’s creation. Our Earth is the only known planet whose moon appears to be the same size as does the sun from the surface of the planet. An eclipse with a much bigger moon or with a much smaller moon could never be the marvel that this eclipse will be. The entire arrangement is beautifully planned.

Needless to say, I have long since been sure to be on vacation for this event. I will have to drive several hours, but I am blessed with family living right in the path of the totality. My room there is already reserved. The only problem is the question of the best location for viewing the eclipse. Some of the family is content to relax in the back yard; after all, the sun and the moon will be overhead—what else would anyone want? My father and I already understand one factor that the other members of the family are missing—the arrival of the moon’s shadow will be dramatic as it soundlessly roars across the landscape at a speed faster than sound.

Every shadow has two components—the entire shadow, and the core of the shadow. Generally we see shadows projected across a surface that is near the object causing the shadow. Therefore, we do not observe the two components. When a more distant object casts a shadow, the blurred edges of the shadow are outside the core, but they are still part of the shadow. The moon is about 239,000 miles from the earth. A dramatic difference exists between its entire shadow and the core of the shadow. A partial eclipse happens outside the core, in the rest of the shadow. At ninety percent or more, the partial eclipse can still be spectacular. But as the core of that shadow arrives, everything changes. My father and I want to be sitting where we can see that shadow tear across the landscape toward us. Yet we do not want to oversell the experience (or give away too many secrets), so we are looking for a compromise that will give us some chance to see the shadow approaching without straying far from the property.

Thinking about shadows, and light and darkness, leads me to another random observation. We see with our eyes. In the back of our eyes are two sets of receptors, called rods and cones. With rods we sense light and darkness; with cones we perceive colors. The cones require more light to work than do the rods. Therefore, in dim light we see things in black and white and in shades of gray. In brighter light, we are able to make out more colors. As the Moody Blues remarked (“Nights in White Satin”), in the nighttime and early morning, “red is black; and yellow, white.” Or, as I tease my children, one sees many yellow cars on the road during the day, but hardly any yellow cars are noticed at night. Do people who own yellow cars only drive during the daytime?

Here is my spiritual take on light and darkness. We see and comprehend many things about creation now, but as the Bible says, we see in a glass dimly. In the new creation, we will see and know things more fully. Other bloggers that I follow have been speculating about heaven in the last few days. I think that the contrast between the lives we live now and the lives we will live then resembles the contrast between what we can see early in the morning before sunrise and what we can see when the sun is high in the sky. Much more will be revealed to us in that new creation than we are capable of perceiving today. What puzzles us now will make sense then, and the harmony of creation will resonate in our lives in ways we cannot even picture or describe today. J.

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7 thoughts on “Waiting for the shadow of the moon

  1. Beloved brother Salvageable, chosen instrument of God,
    Who is your “Pastor” ?

    As for me and my house……

    Jesus “The Good Shepherd” is my Pastor

    Jesus is The Way to God
    The real Jesus of the real Apostles
    But false teachers come and pervert God’s Word
    With twists and turns and jostles

    “My sheep listen to my voice”
    Jesus said for us all to hear
    “I know them, and they follow me”
    He doesn’t run when a wolf appears

    He “calls his own sheep by name”
    It’s not the witchcraft of a distant stranger
    Not just repeating the magic words
    And then thinking you are out of danger

    Our Father in Heaven wants to talk to you
    He can hear you loud and clear
    And He sent His Son Jesus to inhabit the earth
    So that all who want God can draw near

    Real prayer is a conversation
    At least that’s what God wants it to be
    We talk in the garden in the cool of the day
    When we are part of His family

    Only Jesus never disobeyed God
    He’s the only immaculate conception
    The Holy Spirit comes in His Name
    Don’t listen to the voice of deception

    If a false apostle preaches
    I became your father, imitate me
    He doesn’t speak the words of God
    It’s just Boss Paul the Pharisee

    And if a heretic now claims to be
    The Church’s universal pastor
    His words should be ignored
    They lead to nothing but disaster

    Jesus did not just teach The Way
    He IS The Way, my friend
    Repeating the mantra of Marypaulhammad
    Is nothing but a dead end

    Bibliography – all “quotes” in “quotation marks” are the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John chapter 10

    Like

  2. I can’t wait for the eclipse too! I live in southern California though so we only get a partial blip. Still, how exciting! Nice comparison there between the early morning light and bright afternoon and how that is analogous to what Heaven will reveal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As an art teacher who taught years of color theory—the eye actually registers yellow first, not the presumed red…just a little trivia…
    Then the post I wrote a few weeks back about having my solar glasses all ready….well, I thought they were a little fishy as they said firework glasses as well as solar eclipse glasses. They just looked like blurry lenses to me. Turns out I was right, they were fishy—they were clearly only for fireworks (I’ve never used special glasses when looking at fireworks)
    so now I’ve been on a mad dash all over town looking for glasses—but alas there are none to be had.
    A friend who ordered hers from Amazon received a sort of followup letter from Amazon stating that they could not guarantee the safety of their solar glasses…..soooo whereas I don’t think the world will be coming to an end, I do think there will be a run on eye doctors the following day!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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