The Congregation at Duke University Chapel


photo of Phyllis

On Monday, I observed a little slice of heaven – both literally and figuratively.

I found myself in Finlay Park, Columbia, SC, on the afternoon of the solar eclipse. A large crowd had gathered and from what I could tell, consisted of all ages, races, and walks of life. Everyone had their eyes to the sky.

An air of excitement and openness that isn’t usually present in our everyday world was palpable. People smiled, children ran and laughed, friendliness abounded. Those who had concocted unusual viewing apparatuses were approached without concern and gladly shared their knowledge. We were all in this together.

A lady from Boston with terminal cancer drove to SC to watch. A three-year-boy kept asking his mom if the eclipse was here yet, then proclaiming, “I think I hear it coming!” And, when totality occurred, the boy DID hear it, because a joyful cheer erupted from the crowd. During the eerie, grayish darkness, which lasted only minutes, I looked around and soaked in the oneness. And, then there was that view in the sky. The light from the sun was as completely blocked as it ever could be, short of being extinguished, but still it was visible.

As light again overtook the unusual darkness, the people began to disperse. The literal slice of heaven was over, but the figurative remained. I had the feeling we were all at least refreshed, and maybe even changed, by spending that time of darkness together with our eyes to the sky.