Raise your hand if you experienced eclipse regret.
I certainly did.
91% totality sounded pretty good, I didn’t understand the rush and the hassle of driving a few hours to see the moon cover the sun just a teensy bit more. I mean, really, we’d experience 91% just by stepping outside the door.
And it was fascinating– the light dimmed, moon shadows bejeweled the sidewalks and a stillness hung in the air. But when I walked up to the junior high for the moment of maximum exposure the kids were all confused– “That was it?” “But it didn’t get dark?”
I went home and dove headfirst into the images and videos (like the amazing ones in this post from my cousin Brook Richan) and exclamations pouring in on my computer from friends who’d stood in the path of totality. I was awestruck.
And I had to admit to myself– I didn’t experience 91% of the eclipse, I’d only glimpsed 1%. Even my friends in Boise who were at 99.6% caught only a fragment of the spectacle.
The next day, my Facebook feed was filled with eclipse regret. In hindsight, it’s easy to understand why so many of us didn’t quite make the effort to stand in the path of totality. August 21st was the first day of school and a roadtrip felt irresponsible, the partial eclipses we’d seen as children left us unimpressed, and honestly, despite listening to eclipse aficionados and watching virtual simulations, we just didn’t catch the vision.
My own regret and the clear example of what I’d missed, made me wonder. When it comes to my relationship with God, am I standing in the path of totality?
Much of the time, I tell myself, “91% is enough– I’m experiencing 91% of the blessings.” But really, it’s a fraction of a percent.
So I’ve been thinking, what does it mean for me to be in the path of totality? It doesn’t mean I need to attend the temple every day and never have a single grumpy thought. It’s a 67 x 3000 mile swath so there’s some wiggle room. But it does take effort.
For me, standing in the path of totality means dedicated scripture study and personal prayers where I sincerely speak the words, “Thy will be done.” It’s a simple formula– learned in Primary, referred to nearly every Sunday– and yet I’m amazed at how often I stray off that path. 99.6%, 91%, even 80% of my will offered to God, isn’t that enough?
I think I’m afraid to hand over that last bit of my will because I don’t actually trust my Father in Heaven. Maybe His will for me will be boring, or He’ll take way the things I love, or tell me not to pursue my passions?
And yet, when I step into that path of totality, I see WONDERS. My Heavenly Father introduces me to new people, He steers my interests onto better paths and clears my head and heart. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “…the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger life come flowing in.”
For now, I’m pushing aside my sorrow about the missed-eclipse-of-2017 and concentrating on turning my will to God. How can I come closer to my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, how can I partake of the Spirit? And in 2024 I’ll be taking a road trip with my family. I don’t know exactly where we’ll stand to watch the moon slide across the sun, but it will be in the path of totality.