Once I heard about the eclipse happening this year and as close to me as it was, there was no way that I was going to miss heading down to see it. I am grateful for a family that is equally adventurous to want to head down to take it in. Of course, the kids may have just been excited to get an extra day out of school…
Anyway, it truly was an experience that I will never forget and has stayed with me in the 48 hrs since it happened. In a bit of coincidental timing, I had just started working with Psalm 23 the day before the eclipse and “the valley of the shadow” came to mind for me as the eclipse began and I continued to pray about that as I was stuck in insane traffic driving home.
When the eclipse began, it didn’t feel like much was changing initially. But slowly, you could tell that everything seemed *a little bit* dimmer and everything felt just a bit cooler. As we approached totality, everything seemed to speed up and when totality began, it was like a sudden rush of darkness fell over everything. The approximately 2.5 minutes we had of total went by so very quickly, but in that 2.5 minutes it was like few things I have experienced in my life. It was sort of like sunset had come but without the sun on the horizon. There was also just a strange feeling in the air while totality was there. And then, as quickly as it started, it was over.
One moment stood out – there was a point just as the eclipse was ending that I saw the glimmer of the sun starting to peek out (and yes, I was doing this without my glasses at that point) and it was a stunning sight that I’ll never forget – it was like a tiny jewel was flashing off the edge of the dark disc of the moon. Just awesome.
So, where does Psalm 23 fit into this? What I kept thinking about the valley of the shadow was how quickly it suddenly seems to come into life. While one can sometimes look back and see the gradual things that were taking place that were leading to the time in the valley of the shadow, we often don’t realize what’s happening until the darkness has come. And when it does, it is there in fullness – not just a bit of slight dimming but like everything has changed. As I was driving home thinking about this valley, I was praying for people I know who find themselves in those places – family members, friends, folks in the church I serve, even people who I will never meet and never know. What I was praying was that, just as quickly as the shadow came into their lives, that it would just as quickly pass. I prayed that the next line of the Psalm would be made real in their lives:
“…I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me…”