We descended like a swarm of bees upon the city—hovering, crawling, buzzing. Our family had arisen before dawn to make the journey into the heart of totality, and our arrival was swift and direct.
We chatted with other devotees on the same pilgrimage. We unlocked little boxes to compare astrological charts and maps to choose a suitable location. We invited others to join us. Another flock welcomed our company into their fold for the day.
We waited in sweltering heat with children and ants and anticipation. We shared shade and water and moments. We knew the times and the seasons, but we all secretly longed for something more than what we knew. We wanted to feel it.
The change began to happen, imperceptible at first, but for the knowledge that we could see one circle being consumed by another through our paper masks. We looked, then we hid our faces from its heat, peeking out from our hiding places only to catch another glimpse of darkness eating away at the light. We deemed our masks sufficient to protect ourselves from the blindness of his glory.
The temperature began to drop by degrees, by degrees. We could sense it. The light began to leave, stealing our color. The world faded before our eyes. Our little boxes told us the hour was fast approaching.
With hearts pounding, we stood with eyes looking up to heaven, like thousands of masked worshippers in some ancient ritual. The ground rippled with shadow. In moments we were plunged into—no, not darkness… twilight.
Above us hung a black hole surrounded by a halo of white fire. Around us, night was falling but never landing, as though time had stopped and we’d left the land of the living for some strange underworld of the dead.
There, in the totality of the eclipse, I trembled.
I was looking into the face of something more fearsome and glorious than I had imagined. I was seeing, but my mind could not comprehend it, could not make sense of the data. I searched for words, but I could no more describe the experience to my far away friends than I could explain the mystery of marriage to a child. I tried to show them, but for all our measurements and predictions and devices, no human instrument could fully convey that moment. Totality is something that must be experienced first-hand.
After two impossible minutes, sweat beads of orange began to appear at the edge of the black hole, followed by a burst of light so brilliant my heart leapt and rejoiced at its sight. I saw it and I felt it all at once, that resurrection of the sun. The black hole that had separated me from his glory was overcome. I joined the thousands of other worshippers in cheer and looked around in wonder at the world suddenly reborn.
We stood and marveled for a few moments more, trying to make sense of it all, reassuring one another that what our eyes had beheld was true. Then we turned from our gawking and slowly mounted our metal camels to join the caravan home.
Our procession was a long one, but we hardly spoke of what we’d experienced. We simply marveled that we’d experienced it. By the time we reached our beds, night had fallen and we quickly gave ourselves to sleep.
It’s midnight now, and I’ve awakened with a start, heart pounding and eyes burning with the reminder of what I beheld just hours ago.
Here, in the totality of darkness, I tremble.
I close my eyes and all I see is the haloed gaping hole. My own darkness haunts me here in the night. My pride, my insecurities, my fear. I tremble at my failures. I feel alone.
But this darkness, too, has been overcome. It is being overcome. Even now I catch a glimpse of that brilliant flash of light pouring in from the Son, and I weep for its glory. I am undone.
It is a rare and beautiful thing when what I “know” and what I feel completely align with what is True. If only I could somehow remain in the center of that totality—to keep both my heart and my mind completely in line with the Son.
Mine is a daily struggle, but the Voice that spoke pure light into existence and placed the sun and the moon in their courses above still faithfully whispers to me. The struggle is remaining quiet enough—present enough—to hear Him.
One day, this struggle will be over. I’ll walk forever in His light and glory and know even as I am known. But until that day comes, I’ll join my camel to the caravan heading Home.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:1-4, 22-27
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