i've had it on my calendar since sometime last fall, when i found out there would be a solar eclipse and nashville would fall right in the line of totality. i couldn't believe my luck. my city. i wouldn't even have to go anywhere; it would be coming it me.
i remember being in elementary school and learning about solar (and lunar) eclipses, thinking it would be so neat to experience one, hoping one day i would. in middle school, i remember dragging my mom outside one night to look at a partial lunar eclipse, and her humoring me. it was always something i found incredibly fascinating, but in a fleeting kind of way. i actually forgot about both of these things until i learned about this solar eclipse.
my friend mandy's dad had plans to come to town, find a good spot, and take photos. when i found out i'd be finished working already, i made plans to tag along with her dad. things are always better when people share the same level of excitement. eventually, it worked out that mandy, tab, and i would all be tagging along with her dad and we made a day of it. we woke up early, we packed lunches, we camped out. we were among the first to arrive at the park we watched from and were (mostly because of the exit traffic) also among the last to leave.
i had been trying to figure out which weekend i could go to charlotte in august, trying to juggle all the things i wanted to fit into an already chaotic month, and the weekend before was the one that worked the best. as i mentioned, the quick weekends aren't my favorite, but i knew i wanted to be back for this.
whenever i mention it to anyone who wasn't in nashville, or didn't experience totality, my enthusiasm has been met with indifference. every single time. even before i left charlotte, my sister suggested i stay. because there might be a lot of traffic on the way back. because their 98% was enough. because my trip could be that much longer.
here's the thing. in the minutes leading up to it, even i shrugged my shoulders. it was cool, but it was cool for two seconds. in fact, after waiting outside all morning, i actually went to sit in the car, almost as soon as it started, for a solid thirty minutes. i was hot and getting dehydrated and it wasn't that cool yet. (literally and metaphorically, because the temperature does drop when the sun is covered.) it was neat to see the moon slowly carve its way into the sun, leaving crescent-shaped sunlight (and crescent-shaped shadows), but i didn't lose my mind over it. so i get your apathy. i do.
BUT. when the moon fully covered the sun and there was a 360 degree sunset in the darkness, nighttime noises, and cooler air, there was also something intangible and indescribable about seeing that ring in the sky, sans glasses.
i have always been awed by the idea that our solar system is arranged in such a way that we get to experience this type of thing, so maybe that's just me being nerdy. and maybe it's just me being super spiritual in wanting to talk about the significance of the timing or the perfect alignment and totality over nashville, but here is what i'll say: god doesn't do things by accident. he didn't create our planet and our moon and our sun and then realize, oh yeah i guess that will happen. when the scientists discovered, and nashville found out, that it would happen for us on august 21, 2017, he wasn't like, oh yeah i guess you're right.
in those moments, in the minute and 50-ish seconds of totality, i felt that.
the next night in church, one of the worship leaders described it by saying how small it made her feel, but also how seen. and i think that's exactly it. the timing, the alignment, the location. during totality, it felt more divine than like a coincidence.
whenever i'm babysitting, or around my nephews, and i notice them eyeing me – whether it's because they're showing off their skills or doing something they know they shouldn't – i acknowledge them. i say, "i see you."
that's what the total eclipse felt like. it felt like god saying, "i see you." i was with you in elementary school. i was there in middle school. i see you now.
here is what i want to tell you: i know it might not seem like a big deal, but if you have the chance to experience a total eclipse of the sun, take it.
p.s. all photos included above are from mandy's dad and his fancy camera. these photos, below, are ones we snapped throughout the day, with our fancy iphones.
p.p.s. it turns out, i do not enjoy a moonpie.