To go to the eclipse, or not to go? I live in Kirksville, MO which is north of the area of totality. Kirksville would experience 98% totality, but it's not quite the 100%. If I were to drive south for about 45 minutes, I would be in the area of totality. So close, yet I'm a science teacher at the middle school, and it's our third day of school, so it makes sense to be at school and experience this event with my students.
Then comes the end of July. My boys, discovering that there was going to be an eclipse, found out that there would be 100% where babushka (that's what they call their grandmother) lives in Chillicothe. The decision became a little more difficult. Chillicothe is in the zone of totality, and there would be a place to hang out. Yet I'm a science teacher. It's going to be the 3rd day of school. I just can't leave, can I? That's a tough decision.
Yes, there will be another eclipse in 7 years, but it's in an area where I don't know anyone. Chance are I probably won't drive to it. Kirksville will be farther away from totality. In some ways, being this close is almost a once in a life time event. Sure, my kids would experience 98% in Kirksville, but 100% is so close. Which is more important for them to remember - that their dad felt called to duty and stayed on the job, or that he was willing to take off and spend time together in an experience that they will never forget? What do we want our kids to remember? We are laying down a spiritual heritage, and while devotion to work is very important, sometimes there are moments that family takes priority.
So, I took the day off. My daughter was sick, so she and my wife stayed home, but my boys and I drove to babushka's house. We arrived about 9:30am, and it was partly cloudy. Beautiful. Then the clouds came in. It started to rain at 11am. We knew there was a chance of rain, but had been hoping it would hold off. We watched the radar and saw rain and more rain. The meteorologist said the clearing would reach Chillicothe around 1:30 - that would be 20 minutes after totality. Liberty, MO was in sunshine. St. Joseph was partly cloudy. The boys asked "Can't we go there?" It was already noon - we couldn't make it in time. We're going to stay and wait.
Our boys were sad. I had prepared them earlier that this could happen, and I didn't want to hear complaining. At the time, one had said that it would be ok, as we were going to see babushka. Of course, the tone started to change, but he realized we weren't in control of the weather. I knew it was raining in Kirksville, and there was going to be no way they would see anything - but it seemed anticlimactic that we drove for 1 1/2 hours to see rain. We were prepared that we would experience the darkness, and maybe, just maybe, we might see the end of the eclipse.
While we were eating pizza we could see that the clouds were getting thinner. One of our boys went out about 1pm and could see a sliver sun shining through the clouds. We ran outside and noticed that there was clearing near by, and that the sky had a bluish-purple tint to it. The sky cleared up, and we were able to see totality! It became fairly dark, and the boys went wild with excitement! It was like the Fourth of July, but instead of store bought fireworks, we saw something that is totally unique. The Chillicothe Middle School was about 3 blocks away, and we could hear a loud shout of cheers at that moment. It only added to the atmosphere of joy and excitement. When totality was over, we put our special glasses back on. We could see Venus in the sky, and enjoyed watching the end of the eclipse for the next 45 minutes. Then the clouds rolled back in and blocked our view.
It was so miraculous that we were able to see totality and 45 minutes afterwards. We were braced to see nothing, and while we didn't see the whole eclipse, we saw a good and important part. It was precious to hear the shouts of awe and wonder of my boys, and I think it made the event even more special for babushka and Aunt Cyndy. It was priceless, and am glad that I took the chance to go with my family to see it, and wish that my wife and daughter could have been with us.
It makes me more in awe of our God, too. Psalm 74:16 says "The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon". Think of it - the moon is at just the right distance from the sun to make it appear to be the same size as the sun. Earth is unique in that our moon is fairly large in comparison to the size of the Earth - all other planets that we know of don't have as big of moons. If the moon were smaller, we wouldn't be able to have total eclipses. If earth were closer or farther away from the sun, the moon most likely wouldn't appear the same size. Many scientists say that our moon also slows down the rotation of the earth - if it weren't for the moon, one day would most likely be 6-8 hours, rather the 24 we know today. Cosmic coincidence? or Divine design?
Of course, I believe God put them in just the right places, and those are little things we need to be pointing out to the next generation. Sometimes we take the sun and moon for granted. In fact, isn't it kind of interesting that the eclipse occurred on Monday, which actually stands for "Moon Day"? We need to take all opportunities to point out God's hand in creation. Let's not take things for granted - look around and see His hand - and not just notice it, but point it out. Do we talk about luck? or on God's timing? Do we share coincidences? or do we see God's hand? What we say says something to those around us, as well as the next generation - do we truly see God in our world or not?
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