Sometimes You Just Have to Be There

The above photo was taken by a friend of mine Kent Burgess, during yesterday’s eclipse from somewhere near St. Louis. You can see additional ones on his website and Facebook page from the link above.

As part of bringing my son back to Denver to begin a new job, we took the day to run up to Wyoming where we would be in the path of totality. I’ve seen lots of eclipses in my day, because God’s glory in the heavens always fascinates me whether it’s in the form of meteor showers, the Milky Way, or an eclipse. I’ve always wanted to see a total eclipse, but the time and expense of getting to Wyoming just didn’t seem worth it for a two-minute show. Since, I was already in the area, however to help Andrew and to meet with others on the journey in the Denver area, it didn’t seem like too much to make a three-hour run to Wyoming.  (Though it was a five and a half hour ride back, but that’s another story.  Still worth it!)

But I didn’t know what to expect and was not prepared for what I saw. Most of the time is spent looking at various stages of an eclipse that I’ve seen before.  20%… 35%… 62%… even 85% and I thought going to 100 would be more of the same. I’d seen lots of pictures and videos of total eclipses, including the one from yesterday, but I’m telling you none of them do it justice.  It isn’t just what you’re seeing in the sky, it’s what’s going on all around you and the ambiance of majesty at that moment was palpable. I was not prepared to be as awed by all this as I was. Even though it was a two-minute show, I will never forget it. You just had to be there.

As totality approached the sunlight visibly darkened. Stars and planets began to appear on the blue sky and that was disorienting.. and majestic!  Even at only 1% of the sun shinning and all is getting dark around you, you still can’t bear to look at the son without the eclipse glasses. And then… suddenly, that bright light finishes, and for the text two minutes it’s as if someone set off the most incredible fireworks you’ve ever seen. Totality is not like any version of partiality at all! it’s a whole different “other”. As soon as the sun disappears behind the moon everything changes!

I pulled my glasses off and there is this big black hole in the sky, with the sun’s corona shooting out from behind it in starbursts of energy shooting far from the sun and twisting against the black background of space.  In pictures it looks small, in the moment it dominated the sky with wonder. Though it didn’t get completely dark, stars appeared and the horizon for 360 degrees around was painted in the soft pastels of an almost-completed sunset.

The entire view was awe-inspiring and every glance around me alive with his glory.  My soul quivered, goose bumps shot up my neck, and my eyes moistened. I was moved at the glory of it all even though I was expecting none of that. I never even thought of taking a photo, I just stood in awe of this phenomenon, knowing I only had a few seconds to take it all in. People screamed and applauded on the hillsides around us, but I was so captured by the moment, the noise seemed an intrusion. It is truly the most amazing thing in creation I’ve ever seen and it touched me deeply, though I’m not sure how. I didn’t feel closer to God, but I was more aware of what an incredible universe he made for us. And the immensity of his power within it.

If you ever get the chance to see an eclipse take it.  There’s one coming in 2024 to the U.S. It’s worth the added time and hassle. It’s truly one of the great wonders of the Creation and to think I almost missed it. Since Sara wasn’t well enough to travel I thought I’d pass on it as I have so many others in the past, until my sons invited me to come with him to Denver and see it together. I’m so glad he did and now I want to get Sara to one in the future.

I don’t mean to lord it over those of you that weren’t in the path of totality yesterday, just letting you know that one day you will want to be there. No words or even pictures can do it justice. That’s as true of the eclipse as it is of our relationship to God. Don’t just settle for others describing it to you or reading about it in books. He wants to show each of you how to behold him as he makes his revelation known in your heart. That’s not as easy as running off to an eclipse, but what you get to experience is far better. I know people get frustrated when they feel as if it isn’t happening for them, or at least not as fast as they want, but God knows how best to pour himself into our hearts. All we can give him is a quiet, open heart willing to engage him however he desires best and watch what he does. That’s hard to describe as well.

With a fuller heart, and a quieter spirit myself, I’ll be off to Amarillo on Thursday and the next chapter in my unfolding story….

8 thoughts on “Sometimes You Just Have to Be There”

  1. I know just how you felt. My husband and I were fortunate to be able to see full totality from our backyard in Tennessee. The slow dimming of light, the hush of nature, and the dropping temperatures were prelude to the glory of being able to see the sun’s corona, the flares, and the brightest stars in the sky. The crickets burst into their chirping melodies, others near us applauded and shouted hurrahs, but I became awestruck with the wonder of Father’s creation and whispered, “You truly are a great and majestic God! I give You my praise and thanks for the glory of Your mighty works!”

    My husband, who is not a Believer (yet) attributed it to Mother Nature! LOL! Whatever! This was his 4th time seeing a full solar eclipse as he is retired USAF Msgt who served 20 years primarily working on radar sites.

    This experience will live forever in my memory.

  2. We only had about 80-some percent in Ohio, but even with that it was awe-inspiring. I’m looking forward to 2024!

  3. The solar eclipse yesterday caused me to reflect on what seems to be a spiritual eclipse that has been darkening across our nation and world. Solar eclipses in ancient days were something that were feared and misunderstood. In our modern days, due to better scientific understanding of them, we have a different reaction. While following the path of the eclipse on TV it was heartwarming watching how many people were brought together in unity looking in awe towards a phenomenal universe; something far beyond and larger than themselves and their own little world.
    I was reminded how in the bible in Revelations we are given a window into the future to see when there will be times that the sun and stars are darkened and great and horrible catastrophes will occur. Perhaps some of what we see going on today in our “darkening” world is a prelude for believers for those times. Can’t this be an opportunity, just like the people coming together yesterday who watched something occurring beyond their control, for us who do have knowledge of what is going on behind the scenes, to be rejoicing with understanding the victory that has been won, is being won and will be finally be won and ended through all eternity?
    We need not be joining in the chorus of those who are ignorant and fearful and aren’t seeing the Truth. Let’s not get distracted by others and by circumstances into thinking that peace will ever be achieved in this physical world by any of man’s efforts. Everlasting peace only occurs when we allow the Prince of Peace to take up His Life and residence in our hearts in reality and with understanding. Let’s keep our eyes singly focused on Jesus, continually rejoicing in Him and His victory through every spiritual eclipse He sends our way. We have understanding; we know the end of the story. These times of seeming darkness, as the world is looking for answers, are wonderful opportunities to be witnesses to the Prince of Peace Who has come, Who keeps coming and will come in ongoing and final victory. These are excellent times for standing firm in Christ Jesus in unity with fellow believers, being vessels of ongoing witnessing through the Holy Spirit’s revelation knowledge flowing through us.

  4. Thank you for sharing the beautiful description! We did not see the totality in Wisconsin on our vacation but still were drawn closer to His glory and worshipping Him for how amazing His creation is. Thankful for all who share their experience! We didn’t see any stars or planets so hopefully we can experience it in 2024.

  5. Your description was so beautiful. I felt as if I was there & could see it as you described! What a gift for us. How awesome for you!
    Thank you.
    We didn’t have much change here in Fresno.
    I attend The River..enjoyed you sharing w/ us SO very much. Look forward to you returning soon.

  6. Great sharing Wayne,

    Don’t know if you remember us from Boise years ago..we now live in Denver and wish we could have hooked up. God bless you my brother!!

  7. Wayne, I too experienced the eclipse yesterday and I never could have imagined what I was going to see. I saw the eclipse from Debordieu beach near Georgetown, SC. The beach was full of eclipse gazers. One of the significant moments for me was when totality was beginning to happen and the crowd became TOTALLY quiet. It seemed as if even the ocean bowed in reverence. It took me by surprise and it was delightful. There was a joyful reverence that was captivating. As the corona danced and sang of God’s glory, I just spoke out praises and thanksgivings to God. I just kept thinking, ‘God, you are just plain ole’ showing off’ and I loved it. What a special and glorious moment of time….so thankful I live in SC and could participate in the viewing of the eclipse and particularly see it from the coastline. Sincerely…..Denise

  8. Greetings from the totality zone in Salem, OR. We were so fortunate that we could see totality from our own yard. We saw it all from the roof of our house, which turned out to be a perfect vantage point. I watched the moon shadow make its way across the hills from the west, then the 360 degree ‘twilight’ horizon during 100%!! I even got good pix of the corona, and even the diamond ring!
    Wayne said something interesting in his response to totality, to quote: “it touched me deeply…. I didn’t feel closer to God, but I was more aware…” There’s a key word there that has moved to front and center for me the last week or so, and I am intrigued that it has appeared in Wayne’s description. The word is AWARE.
    I have shared in this blog and thegodjourney forum about an “encounter” with God I have been having that “began” about five years ago and continues. I have desperately wanted others to share in it, so I have tried to describe it to people because it has totally turned my existence upside-down. It is very difficult to describe something indescribable!
    But the events of the last week, and the Holy Spirit “nudges” I have received have caused me to adjust my language. When a term like “encounter” is used, for some reason we think it is an experience we can replicate, or pursue. We also think it is an event rather than a reality, despite the observation that it is continuing. One of the realizations that came out of it, however, was that God had been present with me, throughout my whole life, but I didn’t know it.
    Wayne said he “didn’t feel closer to God” which made me realize it’s not about proximity to God, or feelings of closeness or distance. The truth is that proximity is a given! God is always with us! “I will never leave you, nor forsake you!” The difference is that “I was more aware…”
    So I’m changing my encounter language to “God made his presence obvious to me.” So it’s not an “event” that “began” something either. The only thing that changed, then, was my AWARENESS.
    Consider examples in scripture when God made himself obvious, ultimately changing the person’s awareness. (and changing their life in the process!) The burning bush comes to mind, and Saul’s Damascus road thing, and the Emmaus road guys. Every day of his life, Jesus demonstrated that Father was right there, right now!
    Maybe all we need is for God to make his real present presence obvious to us!?

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