The eclipse of August 21, 2017 is an event of cosmic significance. We draw our very life from our nearest star, the sun, and its eclipse means we are temporarily bereft of its life giving power.
Late in the evening of August 24, 1997 our daughter Lea took and ended her life. We learned of her death the next morning, August 25. On that day God’s heart of love was totally eclipsed by the tragedy and sense of loss. A darkness large enough completely blotted out any hint of God’s grace. Red turned grey, and yellow white. (Moody Blues) In fact there was a deep sense of betrayal, since I had prayed daily for her healing for eighteen months, and the result on that morning was the worst case possible.
This year’s eclipse marks the 20th anniversary of the Great Eclipse of 1997. As we prepare for and experience the cosmic eclipse, it is a time to reflect on other eclipses in our lives. What events may have struck terror in our hearts as did eclipses in the lives of people of ages past? And yet within a few hours the crisis will pass and the full sun will once more rule the heavens.
The eclipse associated with Lea’s departure has proved more long lasting. For about a year it was as if the moon had moved between the earth and the sun, and then stopped and froze there. It was a year of near total darkness, followed by years of anguish as the slightest glimmers of light would appear and then seem to recede again.
Over these twenty years I have come to recognize that there will most likely never be a return of the sun in full force. There is no returning to the time of innocence and happiness with was ours before the tragedy. But I have had time and my eyes have adjusted to the lesser light. I have come to believe that the sun is still there, although it is obscured by the deep sense of emptiness and pain. Most days there is enough light to function, and even well. But this eclipse will likely never fully pass. And yet, as we gaze at the marvel of the sun blocked by the moon, we experience a deeper appreciation for the sun and all it does for us. So we have come to believe that God’s love and grace have continued to sustain us on this journey.
Twenty years ago the lights went out. They have gradually come back up. This eclipse is an occasion to remember and take stock. I miss Lea and I am glad to be alive. This contradiction seems to coexist, as do sun, moon and stars.