The Path of Totality

Two weeks ago I saw the eclipse.  I wish that I could find online some photo to do it justice; when the moon was directly in front of the sun with no direct rays shining on us, we took off our glasses and we saw the moon. It wasn’t a black circle as in all the photos I can find. We saw the moon’s roundness, its textures, its color. It was the beautiful moon surrounded by the corona of the sun.

I almost didn’t make it to Salem. I had heard that traffic would be bad, and I almost didn’t go. But I did go. I went to my sister’s house the night before, and watched it with her family. It was a wonderful time spent together and, though the way home was long, I’m glad I didn’t miss it. It was life-changing.

For me, this was an example of diving into really living. It was a moment for me of not taking the lazy way, of embracing beauty and life. A  woman I know did not travel into the shadow of the moon, for her husband had to work that afternoon in Portland. She embraced the time with her husband. Another woman’s children weren’t able to travel south and she witnessed the event in Lake Oswego with her children.  Others had to work and work gave them an eclipse break. They all watched it together.

For those people too, they were diving into life. It isn’t necessary to be in the eclipse’s path of totality to dive into the totality of the experience. There are other ways to live than to look at the moon. There are other things to embrace. For me, chasing the moon was the thing I needed to do. For them it was something else.

active-1807533_640I was speaking with a friend about pain.  I was going through that cyclical loneliness of being forty-something and single — not involved in the young adult groups of the past, wondering how to make community.   This happens periodically. There is joy in the single life, and there is struggle.

She told me that she wished she’d stopped giving me solutions and just sat with me in it. I didn’t feel un-sat with, but I understand, for I often do the same thing with friends.   I’ve found out that to listen, to hear, to sit with someone does more than any solution.  Sometimes a solution is helpful, and sometimes it makes smaller the other person’s experience. Healing comes from being heard and loved through and in our darkness.  And when I do this, I am struck by the beauty of the friend in the darkness, honestly facing their pain.

I made a joke about dealing with pain by Netflix bingeing; she said that is what most people probably do.  It is what I often do. But the world isn’t changed by constant streaming. We aren’t each made more human by giving our lives to the internet.  We grow closer to people by experience joy and pain together, but sharing these things. We grow closer  by caring about something … and doing something.  We grow more human by noticing and pondering what we are experiencing and letting it grow us. Hiding away not only lets the world burn and drown, but it reduces us as well.

It seems like friendship is underrated quite in Western culture.  There is a depth of love and commitment inherent to friendship that people forget about, and this needs to be it’s own post.  So many are afraid. We have other fears too. I met a man who does homeless ministry and makes sure to see the humanity in each person he meets.  I know a woman who meets refugees at the airport and helps them get settled. But others are afraid of these.  Some are called to other things, but some are called here and don’t respond.  I know that many people in nursing homes are lonely.  It seems that the young who are lonely could meet with the old and all could be well. But there is a fear here for so many.  Maybe we could face that. With people at home, or people in society; maybe we could face that.

What I am trying to say is this: Let yourself really live. Let yourself be human. Feel the pain; chase the beauty, be with people in connection. Let them be human too. This is coming alive, this is the beginning of change. This is your path of totality.

May God bless your day.