Do you know where you will be five years from April 8th? I’ve already made plans and perhaps others will join me in my yard that day. The next total solar eclipse in the United States will occur April 8, 2024. The path of totality will come very close to the Cincinnati area and the duration of the eclipse will be longer than the 2017 eclipse by about a minute and a half (4:00 total near the centerline in Indiana). Yes, I plan to be there.
In August, 2017, I dared to travel the highways and byways of Kentucky and drove 4 hours to the south with a companion to experience the totality of an eclipse. I didn’t have a smart phone or a DSLR camera. I hadn’t had cataract surgery at that point either. I had my eclipse glasses though but what I saw that day was not as memorable as what I felt.
I felt awe. Awe at the wonderous and miraculous machine of the universe. The dance of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. A night without a day and a day without a night. I experienced a connection with complete strangers all gathered to witness something we had no control over. We came together from all over the US – all races, genders, ages, political and social economic backgrounds – to bear witness to the wonder of the Universe.
Did you see that eclipse or any eclipse? Have you felt awed?
Maybe you’ve felt it standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. (My husband didn’t but that’s another story about a farmer viewing an out of control erosion problem! Maybe you felt it on a summer night away from city light pollution and saw “billions and billions” of stars in the night sky. Or maybe you feel it when you looked into the eyes of your newborn child. Maybe you felt it observing an athletic event or a particularly gifted player. Some of my most awe inspiring moments are baseball moments, sunsets on our farm, observing the new buds on the trees, daffodils in spring, and star gazing in Pine Key State Park in Florida.
Psychologists and neuroscientists who study awe define it as the emotion we feel in response to something vast that defies our existing frame of reference in one area or another, and leads us to change our perception of that frame of reference. The feeling of awe changes us and makes us see ourselves as a small piece of something larger. Feeling small makes us feel humble and that makes us want to engage with others and feel more connected to them. According to evolutionary scientists, that feeling of connection to others is the reason over the course of human history humanity has formed groups, societies, and lived collectively. Scientists say experiencing awe helps us to live a better happier lives. I believe that larger thing we experience is the Divine. The Divine is in the ordinary and extraordinary and it is holy.
If you want to experience awe and the holy I’d suggest the following: 1) Be nature. Most people say be IN nature. I believe we ARE part of nature yet we need to be encouraged to BE it. Walk. Sit. Breathe. Repeat. 2) Visit somewhere in your area or town or city you’ve never been. Take a moment and simply observe. Notice the trees and flowers. 3) Read a biography of someone who inspires you. 4) Put down your phone and look UP. See the clouds, blue sky, sun, moon and stars. Experience the real world in 3-D! 5) Engage with the world with a more open mind, see possibilities, ask questions, and look for the impossible.
Let me know what you find awe inspiring!
(This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction or companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual direction, or to experience group spiritual direction, please contact me. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought, or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)