In Seattle, we didn’t see the total eclipse; at 92%, it seemed not even close. Light continued to pour over my property even as the partial eclipse came into view.
Still the experience was magical, leaving me awake and in awe, and eager to share a few thoughts with you:
You can see the world anew by looking backwards.
Without special viewing glasses, I couldn’t look straight at the sun during the eclipse (however tempting that might have been.) Instead, my husband made us a pinhole box, a primitive contraption that let us experience what it was like to be inside a camera. I had to look with the sun at my back to see a tiny reflection of the sun projected from a pinhole on to the wall of the box. The experience made me curious what else I could view differently by looking backwards.
Walking around the property looking for reflections, I discovered a beautiful portrait of our weeping Japanese maple in the glass of our garage door. I walk past that tree everyday but had never noticed the elegant shape of its lines, from the backside.I became newly inspired to design in that part of the garden. Looking from a fresh perspective was a way of waking up my jaded eyes.
Sometimes life can be best understood in its reflection.
When the eclipse hit its apex, I put down our box and went searching for the horses to see how they were faring. As I traversed a shaded part of the garden, I looked down at the sandy path and discovered a flock of little crescent-shaped light beings, swirling on the ground. “Steve, come quick,” I called to my husband, “There’s magic.” Walking ahead, I found crescents everywhere: in the driveway, on the flanks of my horse. In the dancing reflections, cast into nature, the eclipse came more alive for me.
Sometimes the truth of something comes most real when it is reflected back. As I speak, looking out at my audience, I know that the life in my talk lies not in my words but in how they land with others. The eyes of my audience members combined with the energy in the room show me where the life is in my presentation.
Great truths can be better judged when they are reflected in deeds, rather than in words alone. (Please share with certain politicians.)
Even when we forget, we are connected.
Saying “we are all connected” can sound cloyingly new age. Yet the experience of the eclipse was another reminder of how true that saying actually is. During the eclipse, the horses stood quietly with me, the birds stopped singing, and millions of people stood in awe. All of us felt the presence of something big. The leaves reflected the eclipse in their shadows. The breeze carried the eclipse as it blew. I joined with the spirit of my property, not as an owner but as a guest invited to participate in a special communion with nature.
“Wonder days” are a gift we can give ourselves.
I did not work the morning of the eclipse, savoring what a rare thing it was for me to take time, during a work day, to just sit in awe. In those few hours, I felt renewed. As the air grew cooler, and the sky darker, the heavy summer heat was lifted. The air was rinsed.
There are times when the quality of our time shifts. Time steps out of time. This can happen during a sacred holiday or threshold event, on a mountain top, or even in the wake of a tragedy. The everyday banter of the world quiets; we turn away from our electronics; we lift out of our little concerns. We turn towards each other or towards nature. We experience wonder.
We don’t need to wait for the next eclipse. You could start tomorrow. I’m giving you a special gift that I also need: a free pass to create your own, unique wonder day. To see the world anew.