We had a real treat this past Monday, we experienced a solar eclipse. We’re told this is not as uncommon as we might believe. NASA tells us there are about 2380 solar eclipses of all kinds every 1,000 years. The math breaks it down to roughly 2-3 solar eclipses each year somewhere in the world. What we experiencd this past Monday is considered a total eclipse, where the moon completely blocks the sun. For these kinds of eclipses, we are told they average out to two total eclipses every three years somewhere in the world. I also discovered the width of this path of totality is roughly 115 miles wide. In other words, there were a lot of people who actually witnessed this phenomenon, approximately 31 million.

I was at home when the eclipse occurred. I have a window that looks out on a major road and had a very good view of what was occurring outside. As the moon crept across the face of the sun, I visibly saw the darkness encroach. At first it seemed very slight, then the headlights of the passing cars started coming on. The shadows of trees and buildings began to dissipate. The darkness seemed to come on rather quickly at one point, and then it was as if it were night.

I was left thinking of the ancient peoples who witnessed these kinds of events. I can understand how they would have seen this as a terrible thing, how they would have been frightened. To see darkness sweep across everything visible would seem unnatural and not in keeping with nature. The reality is, it is natural, and it does occur with some regularity. Only a relatively small percentage of people at any one time would see the occurrence, and for them it would feel like the entire world was experiencing the same thing.

It was an amazing experience from our perspective today, and fairly short-lived. It was over almost before you knew it. Life returned to normal. The headlights on the cars and the other lights activated by sensors, turned off. The rest of the day was as it always is, and ended that way.

In ruminating about the events of the day, I suddenly remembered a line from the Psalms…”The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.” Quite honestly, it just popped into my head. I looked up the Psalm out of curiousity. That line is part of Psalm 121. The whole Psalm reads, “I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.”

What a comforting word from God. We may feel small, insignificant, fearful, anxious; yet God is saying to us God is with us. No matter our circumstance, no matter what is raging around us, no matter whether the day or the night comes, at all times God stands right beside us. Momentary things like eclipses, or even times of desperation will not last. Only God lasts. And God will not let evil do us in.

I was thinking about this whole “path of totality” being talked about in relation to the eclipse. Only those who were in the path of totality experienced the truest effects of the eclipse. Its the same with each of us in relation to God’s love and care. We are in the path of totality when it comes to God’s presence in our lives. We may feel alone at times, we are, however, constantly in the path of totality when it comes to God’s love. In every place, in every stage, in every moment, day or night, God loves us and nothing can overcome that love. For those who face whatever life is throwing at them, God is there. “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.”

Your companion on the Way,

Pastor Tom

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