Wednesday, April 10, 2024


My An Arkie's Faith column from the April 10, 2024, issue of The Polk County Pulse.

As we drove up the mountainside to my cousin’s house to attend an eclipse viewing party, clouds filled the sky. “Oh my,” I thought; “After several days of back-and-forth weather forecasts, I thought today was going to provide a cloud-free sky for viewing the eclipse.” 

We set up on the deck with a great view of the sky. The sun was almost peeking through the clouds, and then it disappeared. I put on my eclipse-viewing glasses and looked toward the sun. Occasionally, I could see the shape of the sun through the clouds. It was twenty minutes until the eclipse began. Hopefully, the clouds will clear by then.

A few minutes later, the sky cleared, and not a cloud was near the sun. I sat back in the reclining chair and put on my eclipse-viewing glasses. Excitement built in our group as the reality set in that the eclipse was beginning. When the first tiny black crescent appeared on the sun, everyone quieted as they focused on the sight before them.

After an hour of watching the black disc march across the face of the sun, our excitement built again as we prepared for totality. Suddenly, the tiny crescent disappeared, and there was a single, spectacular, bright point of light. We took off our viewing glasses and looked directly at the sun. Circling the blackness of the Moon, we saw a brilliant light, the Sun’s corona. Totality had begun!

My first view of totality was mind-blowing: excellent, beautiful, delicate, fantastic, and powerful. It left me with no words to describe what I was seeing. The air temperature dropped noticeably, and the sky darkened. A soft red glow like a sunset hovered over the mountains in the distance. The sun was a perfect circle of iridescent white light around a dark marble. 

Eclipse totality is magical. It was an ethereal experience, like seeing a window into another dimension. The moon's blackness was circled by the corona’s beautiful gossamer plumes of iridescent light. Jupiter and Venus appeared in the sky near the sun. The light on the horizon took on a lovely, soft yellow-orange color. 

I watched in awe, trying to record what I was seeing and experiencing mentally. But all too soon, the moment of third contact came, with a burst of light as the sun broke back through. We put on our eclipse-viewing glasses. I took a moment to soak in what I had just experienced. 

Watching the last half of the eclipse was fun, but there was no anticipation. The experience of totality was over, and I will never experience it again. After such a wonderful experience, I felt terrible for the many naysayers I have seen posted on social media over the past few days. One that resonated with me was the post, “I’m not sure how many eclipses there have been in my lifetime. I’m 74, and I fail to see how anyone can get excited about the planets doing what they do. It’s just another, and it will carry on happening occasionally.”

While total solar eclipses occur somewhere on Earth about every 18 months, they are an unusual event in the U.S. The next solar eclipse with a path crossing the U.S. will happen on Aug. 12, 2045, and will span from California to Florida.

On April 8th, large numbers of people across North America watched the eclipse. Because of the attention the eclipse received from the news media and the information that went viral on social media, it is predicted that more people observed and photographed this eclipse than any other eclipse in history.

Even though many people viewed the great American eclipse of 2024, I know of a celestial event that will have many more viewers. Shortly before Jesus was crucified, “His disciples came to him privately and said, ‘Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?’” Matthew 24:3 (NLT) After giving His disciples many signs and much information, Jesus told them, “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:30 (NLT)

No event in the history of the world has been more anticipated than the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. Every generation of believers has believed that Jesus would return. When He was on this earth, Jesus promised His disciples that He would return. He told them, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3 (NKJV)

This promise was reaffirmed when Jesus ascended to heaven. He had gathered His disciples and given them some final instructions. In Acts 1:9-11 (NLT), we read, “After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!’”

From that moment until now, those who believe in Jesus have been waiting for the world’s most astounding celestial event. It will be the most viewed event in the history of the planet. “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him.” Revelation 1:7 (NKJV)

Gentle Reader, Jesus is returning to this earth to reward His people just as He promised and take them to the beautiful home He has prepared for them. My prayer is that on that day, you will be among the people who say, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Isaiah 25:9 (KJV)

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