Why all the Hoopla? Celebrating an Eclipse

“This is the day that the Lord has made,
we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Like millions of other Americans, today, August 21, 2017, I stood outside with more than a dozen of my friends and family and craned my neck to see the moon cast a perfect shadow over the sun. Over the course of hours, we moved first from a table full of themed food to the television screen showing eclipse footage from all over the United States, and then outside where we put on our special cardboard glasses to peer up into the sky for a few seconds. Then we started the cycle all over again.

We enjoyed crescent sandwiches, eclipse cookies, Sun Chips, Moon Pies, Milky Way and Starburst candy and washed it all down with Sunny D and Sunkists. We watched the teenagers laugh and run and throw water balloons at each other. And we all waited with anticipation until finally, for just a few seconds, the sky went dark in the middle of the day.

School was canceled. Some had to take off work. We rearranged our day. We bought and fixed food. Some even had to get in the car and drive. But why? Why all the hoopla? I mean, we all could have watched the eclipse with very little effort. We could have seen the darkness from the windows in our houses or offices. We could have avoided the traffic, the cost, and even the risk by simply watching it all on TV. We didn’t have to make such a big deal of it.

So, let me tell you why we did.

Life is full of everyday kind of days, the ordinary, the mundane. And, honestly, we are all very thankful for those kind of days. After all, our lives are composed of lots of plain days, and they are beautiful in their own right. But, if we take the time to look carefully, we will realize that tucked among the normal activities of our existence are amazing opportunities that God has given us to party!

Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries are a great start, but so are sunny summer days at an amusement park…and cool spring evenings spent at the ballpark…and crisp autumn afternoons painting pumpkins…and frigid winter mornings watching Netflix with your kids. Life is full of work and study and hard, but it’s also full of moments that are worth celebrating.

Eclipse Day 2017 was one of those days. It was a day when we could look at the sun slipping into the shadow of the moon the way a prince might slip into his tuxedo. It was a day when we could look up and exclaim with the psalmist, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship…God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.” (Psalm 19) It was a day to break away from the ordinary and to have fun.

I spent today with some of the people I love most in this world. One of those was a toddler who, completely oblivious to the reason we gathered, was fully satisfied with eating goodies and taking center stage whenever our attention veered from the sun and moon show. Another was a friend who, according to doctors, is in the final stages of her life. If they are right, she won’t be with us this time next year. I spent the day with one just starting life and one whose life is coming to an end and a lot of family and friends in between.

We talked, and we laughed. We ate junk food and enjoyed every bite of it. We took pictures and compared images. We marveled at solar snakes on a white sheet and short shadows that were attached to our heels. We took note of the heaviness in the air and the drastic drop in the temperature. We swatted at the sudden increase in mosquitoes and watched as the horses ran to the barn thinking it was bedtime. We listened as frogs started croaking and dogs all over the neighborhood began barking. And then, all together, with heads thrown back, glasses in hand, eyes peeled at the darkened sky, we cheered when the bridegroom was fully dressed.

And though we may have not thought about it in the moment, I am convinced that our applause was not just for a sun hidden fully behind the shadow of the moon. Our accolades were in fact for a God who gives us life with all its darkness and light, shadows and sunshine, beginnings and ends, and it was in thankfulness for family and friends with which to celebrate it. Today was a day I will never forget, and one I will never regret.  I hope you had one too. If not, go out tomorrow and make one. Life, like the eclipse, is too short. So, why not celebrate? After all, every day is a day that the Lord has made. Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!