Above the petty squabbling and nitpicking of our daily lives, the moon glows and the sun shines every day on every person. On Eclipse Day the two celestial bodies canceled out the light and the pettiness for a few moments as folks shared the experience across the nation.
Shortly after lunch, the time arrived to use the cardboard bound eclipse glasses that had been sitting on the counter for two weeks. Two pairs slid over the eyes as the retiree visiting the young woman took their first peek of the eclipse.
“It has begun! It looks like a cookie with a bite taken out of it,” The young woman exclaimed and added, “I want to take a pair over to Susannah.” She went next door and knocked.
“Do you want to see the eclipse? I have an extra pair.”
“I do.” Susannah stepped out. She later said, “I would have gone to see the totality of the eclipse but my family didn't want to travel.”
“We have a pinhole and paper to look at it, too.” the good neighbor said, holding the pricked page above the flat sheet. A small circle with a cookie bite of shadow appeared on the bottom sheet – just like the sun seen through the darkened glasses.
Susannah's husband came to the front yard. “Do you want to look?” He placed the glasses over his eyes and stared with satisfaction.
“Keep the glasses; I have an extra pair.”
A big pick-up truck pulled into the driveway across the street. As the young retirees slid out, the good neighbor called, “Have you seen the eclipse? I have some glasses you can use.”
They looked at each other and wandered to the center of the asphalt street. The wife took a perfunctory look and studied the pin hole effect. The husband looked and looked until someone said, “You need to be careful to not stare at it too long.”
He gave the glasses back to his wife, went into the house and returned with his camera. He aligned the lens and snapped a shot of the eclipse. Everyone studied his shot: a bright glare, a crescent to the side and a pink glow.
“Could I borrow these glasses for a few minutes to take to my mother so she can see the eclipse?” he asked.
“Oh, you can keep them. I have a pair,” the young woman said. He quickly strode over to his truck and drove off with the glasses.
Everyone took another look at the half completed eclipse a couple more times. Pictures taken using cell phones did not capture the intensity of the event. Down the street another retired couple walked to the front of their house.
Seeing them, the good neighbor called, “Hey! Have you seen the eclipse?”
“Here use my glasses and look,” she held out the cardboard strip.
The wife looked and asked questions about the eclipse. Her husband stared at the sun through the glasses. “Now that is something.” He took the glasses down, and picked them up to look again, “That is something.”
Too far south for totality, still the shadows deepened, became elliptical and colors intensified.
Susannah raised her glasses again, “I am not going in until it reaches its peak. And that won't happen for another four minutes,” she said looking at her watch.
The sun slowly regained control of the daytime sky, The eclipse party drifted back into their separate homes. For a shared moment, a celestial display showed us something greater than our petty little issues.
Joan Hershberger is a retired journalist who lives in Parkers Chapel with her husband. She may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.