Dance of the Sun and Moon

When I saw the sun on my bike ride this morning….as it rose over the Gulf of Mexico….it was like greeting a lover the first time after a first encounter….I gazed at the sun as if it was seeing me after I had opened myself up to it…surrendered to it. Today I paid attention to that amazing orb in the sky and greeted it as a friend….a magnificent star.

A few days ago the solar eclipse brought together millions of people within a 70 mile path across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. People from all over the world came together in celebration of a Universal phenomenon. I hadn’t planned on going anywhere but as the event drew closer that changed.

First, I needed a solar filter for my camera lens. They were out of stock all over the country. But after patient and diligent checking with my favorite east coast photog supply company, it was finally in stock and on the way. And of course after spending so much money on a 77mm piece of glass I had to go to the totality. Didn’t I?

Where? Obviously north of the Gulf Coast. Charleston, South Carolina was supposed to be the number one most-crowded place to view it…and it would most-likely have clouds due to the coastal location. So not there. But I couldn’t justify flying to Wyoming, where clouds would be less-likely.

I kept asking the Universe…Where!???!!

Finally two events steered me to the right place. One, a woman at an outdoor concert sat in front of me wearing a shirt with Cookeville, TN on the back. I looked it up and it was in the totality. Then my friend Joyce, who lives with her hubby in Crossville, joined the live video from the Gulf of Mexico one morning so I messaged her later asking if she knew about Cookeville….long story short they invited me to stay and attend an eclipse party she was going to attend.

On the drive up to Crossville I thought about the millions of people traveling to the narrow path of totality and how amazing it was that so many people were coming together in celebration. I felt the event was about community-building, strengthening relationships with each other and moving beyond a place of separation to a place of unity. But that’s well-into the 9 hours of driving so I thought I could be slipping into the twilight zone.

Clouds in Birmingham and rain…then patchy clouds. What would I do if clouds covered the sky? I wanted to photograph the corona….how would I react if I made the trip and didn’t see the corona? I was willing to make the effort, take the risk, to have the opportunity.

Sunday night, as Joyce and I were chatting another friend called me. She is from upstate New York and was driving to Nashville for the event….but she ended up joining us. Of course the strange part of this wild story is that the four of us met on a humpback whale trip. Something amazing was at work…or at least that’s what we felt. Definite twilight zone potential.

The morning of the eclipse dawned with a crystal blue, clear sky. But like clouds do, the heat of the day began to fuel those little buggers and since the celestial event wasn’t until 12.30pm, the chances of clouds obscuring the view increased.

We arrived at the party an hour before the beginning and were greeted by the hosts, Kai and Susanne. They live on a lake and had the perfect setup for viewing and visiting. Large, smooth rocks at the lake and bountiful deck space. And of course a ship’s bells for Kai to ring out the countdown to totality.

Without special glasses or viewing equipment one would never know anything was happening. But with the glasses and solar filter on my camera lens it was stunning.

Slowly the moon slid in front of the sun. Little-by-little larger bites of the sun disappeared. The moon created a deeper crescent in the sun as it danced through the sky. Celebration extended past the rocks and deck around the lake. Boats loaded with people joined in our hoots and whistles.

A guy from Denmark, a professional astronomer, flew in for the event. He was offering me advice about photographing the corona. I was so excited to have his kind suggestions.

Kai began ringing the bell at thirty minutes to totality. “Thirty minutes!!!” he proclaimed. Around the lake, voices echoed his announcement. Then….”TEN MINUTES!” And voices around the lake once again took the message and spread it like wildfire. Finally it was time and the fat cloud that had been hanging over the lake greedily hid the totality from us. The corona was not going to be seen from our perch on the rocks. NOOOOOO!!!!! 

But wait…..the light. How amazing was the darkness. Street lights came on across the water. Crickets begin singing their night song. Amazing light. Profound light. Clouds or not….this was nothing short of miraculous.

At the time of totality I grabbed my wide angle lens and shot a bit and my GoPro since the corona didn’t command my attention. In reviewing the video earlier today it was like I was back there, celebrating with everyone who quickly got over the cloud cover and surrendered to the experience of what was happening. We were witnessing something most of us had never seen before and may not again.

As totality ended the clouds begin to glow as light returned. We had come together….all *18 million of us. Think of the amazing good will and energy generated by that number of people focusing on something. It was so exciting to have our country be showered in light and love and people coming together for a celestial event. It gave me hope, that we can work together and love together and put positive energy out into the world together!

The next day was another long drive home followed by a busy day so I hadn’t had time to write about my experience. On the bike ride this morning I missed the magnificent pink and red sunrise from my bicycle seat as I drove my car to the state park where I ride. By the time I cycled to the beach, the sun was burning brightly over the Gulf. And somehow that was perfect.

I stopped and unclipped my feet and gazed at the sun. I saw it in a different way this morning. I felt shy because just a few days ago I had opened my mind and heart so big to it and the moon and witnessed their amazing dance with so many wonderful people. An intimacy between the sun, moon and me occurred. It feels as if I came into greater alignment with the Universe, myself and everyone who journeyed into the path of totality.

Perhaps our coming together will open a new era of cooperation. Human-to-human, human-to-nature. Maybe experiencing such a profound event will open our minds and hearts to see beyond the normal mind and heart-numbing barrage of bullshit spewed by news and fake news, violence, hatred and other dysfunctions.

Sounds of laughter echo in my mind as the voices echoed around the lake….Thirty minutes!!! Ten minutes!! The bell rings loud and clear in my heart. Open! Open! Open! It’s time to dance!

One thing is clear. The sun and moon and stars keep dancing whether we notice or not. The Universe continues in its beautiful waltz even when humans act like goof-balls. The stars, sun and moon continue in their journey, continue their dance. The question we have to answer is this: Will we join in the dance?

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