How an Eclipse Overshadowed Differences and Illuminated Our Humanity

People watching 2017 eclipse on New York street“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” —Walt Whitman

Did you see what I saw yesterday?

I’m not referring to the eclipse. What I’m talking about is the magnificent spectacle of tens of millions of Americans joining together to bear witness to this incredible event with wonder and curiosity. As the moon crept in front of the sun, it was as though judgment, disparity, and differences were wiped out for a few moments as well. Strangers came together to stare at the sky and seemed to symbolically acknowledge, “We ALL share the same sun, moon, and sky. Perhaps we’re more alike than we care to admit.”

Though businesses lamented the unavoidable loss in productivity as employees took time off or stepped out for more than a 15-minute break, there was much to be gained. Pictures posted on social media depicted people stopped on city streets, standing still instead of racing at a sprinter’s pace, smiling at what they saw beyond the tops of the tall buildings above them. I heard stories about people not knowing each other but venturing to ask if they could borrow glasses just to catch a glimpse, and how those fortunate to have those glasses obliged or offered up front, wanting to share the wonder they were experiencing. There was enough amazement to go around.

People gathered in fields and parks. People connected to those in other parts of the country to capture what they could not see themselves; people were interested in others’ perspectives. A sense of community was created. Those watching the eclipse, especially those in the path of totality, erupted with collective gasps, sighs, and emotional responses.

Where there were clouds, they provided a lesson. They reminded us that, though we can’t always see the wonder that is, we need to believe it’s there and that it might be revealed to us only in precious moments. If we aren’t present and paying attention, we might miss those moments. And even if we do, it’s important to acknowledge they exist.

The focus on our sky, for a while, left hate, politics, skin color, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and identity, able-bodied-ness, age, language, and gender on the sidelines. We were just people seeking to witness something way bigger than ourselves.

Where I live, I saw only a partial eclipse. It was really something to see the sun swap shapes with the moon. Was that a lesson as well? We can better appreciate one another when we step into each other’s shoes, if just for a while. The moon appeared dominant as the sun assumed the shape first of a cookie with a bite taken out of it, and then slowly morphed into a crescent that seemed to turn in the sky as the moon chased it.

The pictures and descriptions of “totality” were awe-inspiring: a black hole surrounded by glowing light. The contrast between the two was breathtaking. There was an end to the darkness as the light surrounded it. The shadow cast on the earth was temporary, enough to confuse some into feeling that night had come, only to be reassured by daylight a short while later. We can remember the eclipse and remind ourselves on the days that feel darkest to trust that light exists beyond them.

Even the animals were impacted, indicating how we are ALL influenced by our environment and how delicately balanced it is, the eclipse gently suggesting to us to grant the world we inhabit a greater measure of respect.

The focus on our sky, for a while, left hate, politics, skin color, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and identity, able-bodied-ness, age, language, and gender on the sidelines. We were just people seeking to witness something way bigger than ourselves.

If the eclipse had a final message for us (aside from the mounds of scientific data we collected), it might have been to lower our eyes from the skies and look at each other with the very same sense of wonder, curiosity, respect, and appreciation. We don’t even need special glasses to do it.

“In the midst of darkness, light persists.” —Mahatma Gandhi

© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC, therapist in Denville, New Jersey

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Leilani

    Leilani

    August 23rd, 2017 at 2:01 PM

    For just a brief few minutes the country could focus on more than just arguing and politics. It was nice I have to say, makes me wish for more events like that that actually bring us together instead of so much of the stuff that tears us apart.

  • Laurie

    Laurie

    August 24th, 2017 at 4:24 AM

    Agreed.

  • Miller

    Miller

    August 24th, 2017 at 10:52 AM

    We couldn’t see it at my house, too cloudy so can’t wait until the nest time when we have a chance to see it again.
    Either that or one day I guess I’ll have to become an eclipse chaser.

  • Kathy I

    Kathy I

    August 27th, 2017 at 2:36 PM

    Has it only been a week? Feels like a lifetime ago

  • Laurie

    Laurie

    August 28th, 2017 at 6:15 AM

    Doesn’t it?!

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