The solar eclipse has brought the moment of connection we all need – Top Stories (Trending Perfect)


Mark Twain famously said: “The difference between an almost correct word and a correct word is really a big one—it is the difference between a lightning bug and a lightning bolt.”

Jeff GillJeff Gill

Jeff Gill

I would say the same about the distinction between a 99% eclipse and a total eclipse. Licking County missed the total solar eclipse on April 8, just barely. Some estimates were literally less than 1%.

You've probably heard by now from others if you haven't looked it up yourself: 99% coverage is not the same experience as a total eclipse. And this is not so. As the Moon's disk covers the Sun, there is a truly cosmic sense of scale that rushes over to the viewer on Earth, drawing you into the near-infinite contrast between Earth and the overlapping celestial bodies. Add to that the twinkling lights around the ocean, and the solar emitters momentarily visible in glowing red and shimmering green, and you are in the presence of something that is simply not of this earth.

A comparison of sorts is when you happen to see the moonrise on a clear evening, apparently full and wide on the distant horizon, usually an unusual orange or even blood-red color when the thicker part of the atmosphere filters out the usual silvery moonlight. A waxing moon can capture your attention in ways that a full moon cannot. A total solar eclipse is similar, but…

My wife and I were in central Indiana for this event, in a house that had been slowly emptied after a death last December, part of a neighborhood we knew but were still strangers to. We sat in camp chairs in the backyard as totality appeared, eclipse glasses no longer needed, and traffic on a busy road behind had stopped almost completely a few minutes earlier. There was no one in sight where we sat.

However, as the total eclipse made its way from the last sliver of sun to “beads” of sunlight across the lunar mountains and valleys, with darkness suddenly sweeping across the sky, the air cooling, and the stars and planets opening to view from above, there were those all around us, Visible, cheer.

We heard shouts, laughter and applause, dozens of voices from points on the other side of the road and on both sides of it. The experience we were sharing in heaven with many people invisible to us, but within earshot, at a less than cosmic distance around our location.

In a former era, we might have gathered at the well or spring, buckets in hand, marveling at what we saw; We might come to the market square, the church overlooking us on one side, and share our impressions and understandings. Instead, inside the sliding door of the patio we had a television to keep us updated on events taking place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and later on reports of traffic congesting the highways leaving the area.

In other words, our moment of shared experience was brief, dissipated in the usual associations of media analysis. We are told, no matter how politely, what we have just seen, felt or understood. Maybe that's more efficient, I don't know.

However, what I heard in those chants over the fences and across the right-of-way was a moment of connection and communication. It felt good, it felt right. Something we needed, and need more of. Even if it's just a sunset more common.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and preacher in central Ohio. He is interested in shared experiences. Tell him what you've shared with loads of your fellow humans at, or follow @Knapsack77 on Threads.

This article originally appeared on the Newark Advocate: BAG: The solar eclipse has brought the moment of connection we all need



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