Report from the Path of Totality

Paolo_Veneziano_-_Coronation_of_the_Virgin
Paolo Veneziano, Coronation of the Virgin, National Gallery of Art, Washington

You can’t put on a pair of special cardboard glasses and watch the moon occlude the sun everyday. But I was always more interested in the visual effects on the surface of the earth.

Here the streetlights came on at 1:17pm. The sky still had sunlight in it–a thin, grey blue kind of sunlight. The traffic lights and neon signs shone to the eye like they look at night. The faces of the people around me looked silvery, as they all craned their necks skyward with their cardboard glasses on. An eerie calm interrupted the terrific heat of a dog day of August, because the blazing sun wasn’t blazing.

The nightlights came on in the farmers’ market we were all standing next to. We must have looked ridiculous, standing there in a little crowd, and a passing driver shouted, “It’s the end of the world!”

But of course it wasn’t. And I do think that Annie Dillard oversold the experience. I’ll take the sight of another human being smiling for ten solar eclipses. Or a fleeting moment of real prayer: a hundred times more captivating, exulting, and life-changing than all the solar eclipses you’re ever gonna see…

Hail, Mary, full of grace! Eight days after the Lord brought her to heaven, He crowned her Queen. Eclipse, shmipse. Revelation 12:1 tells the really interesting tale:

There appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.

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