With alarms set to go off at 5 am, I laid awake in bed, too excited to go back to sleep. Eclipse day!

I’d read the books. I’d watched the documentaries. I’d refreshed the NASA website pages. But I’d never seen a Total Solar Eclipse. This was the day!

My husband Peter and three kids gathered picnic supplies and left the house at 5:20, ready to trek northwest. Yes, our house was already in the path of totality, with a predicted 2 minutes, 23 seconds of totality. But by driving an hour north, we had a chance of being out of some of the clouds and seeing an additional 2 minutes and 2 seconds of totality.

The clouds covered a festival atmosphere, with crowds streaming in to Kerrville, Texas for a chance of a lifetime. We didn’t know if our hopes would be fulfilled, but we knew that they were streaming NASA’s view from the stage if all else failed.

12:14: First Contact. It begins with no ado. The kids observe that the moon is taking bites out of the sun. We have great views interspersed with heavy cloud cover. With thousands in the park, you would hear a delighted voice call out “There it is!” and cheering whenever the clouds moved out of the way for a view of the eclipsing transition.

We’re ready. We’re hoping. We’re watching. We’re waiting.

My husband cried out, “Woah—diamond ring!”

Through the clouds, in snippets of wonder, the sun’s corona filtered around the moon, filling the sky with wonder.

Four minutes and 25 seconds. Time both slowed and sped by…I took four images on my SLR. I captured a quick video of children and husband, eyes locked on the sky, entranced. I laid down on the picnic blanket with my crew, soaking in the splendor of the moment. Four minutes and 25 seconds.

The sky went dark. City lights went on. The crowd hushed, then hollered, each person responding purely and spontaneously to the glorious experience.

I went into the day with open hands, ready to fully experience whatever the day had for us with gratitude and joy. The memory that sticks with me the most, days later, is having joined humanity in a holy hush and hallelujah. We brought different histories, different worldviews, different beliefs, and different dreams to the park, each looking to the skies for a glimpse of something bigger than ourselves. And for a short time, we were fully united around one beautiful sight.

Friends share with me that my hometown of San Antonio was cloudlocked, and while they experienced the expected darkness of the eclipse, the shows of first contact and diamond ring and dazzling totality were all hidden behind clouds.

My eyes water even now, thinking back. After a short and glorious unobstructed view of totality, the clouds moved in to stay. In Kerrville, for four minutes and 25 seconds, we gazed at the sky in wonder, adding wishes and prayers to hope that the clouds would clear and we would see something amazing.

Did we see something amazing?

  • We saw gorgeous, amazing, mind-blowing people gathered together, made in the image of God and reflecting His glorious design.
  • We saw the sky grow dark in the middle of the day.
  • We saw wonder and delight reflected in the eyes of those we most love.
  • We saw evidence of a powerful, majestic Creator.
  • We saw hints of hope and beauty and wonder.

Our eclipse experience is more defined by clouds than anything else. We caught snippets of glory in the midst of heavy clouds.

But as I think back, with water in my eyes and gratitude in my heart, to Monday’s eclipse experience, I keep thinking about how that’s a lot like life.

We look for the once-in-a-lifetime experience. We plan for it and plot out the best spot to be and bring along the ones we love. We schedule and scheme and ponder and pray, wishing that fortune will favor the expectant.

And then sometimes, on the day of all days, the clouds move in. The wind blows. There’s not a thing to do but fully enjoy the new reality and look for the wonder in the new view, to engage in this present moment and in this present gift. For even this, we give thanks.

If we had looked at the forecast and decided not to go, I would have missed out on the highlight of my year. If we had glanced at the skies and decided to stay inside, I would have missed out on the glory of reflected divinity in upturned faces. If we had cut out early because the skies were filled with clouds, I would have not been there as temperatures dropped, crickets chirped, and quiet voices whispered “woah.”

Friend, encourage your heart with truth. Are you in a situation where reality seems to eclipse your dreams and where cloudy circumstances out of your control obstruct your view? Don’t give up. The sun is still there. The wonder is just beyond the clouds. And around you, with upturned faces, are the people that reflect the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us just this: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” Look up. Look around. Look.

  • To the dear friend in ministry, navigating yet another change and wondering if your work is making a difference: what you do matters. In Kerrville I was surprised to discover that a quarter of those gathered were from out of the country, and another quarter was from out of state. You won’t often know the breadth of your reach. God’s impact through you is incredible and expansive.
  • To the dear parent, pondering how to disciple a young heart amidst the reality that you’re just as new at parenting as your kid is at living: Jesus is for you.
  • To the dear friend in the middle of your task list, swimming through the urgencies of the day and afraid that your dreams are too big and too out-of-touch with reality: you’re making a difference.

May the clouds in your day simply add a layer of wonder to your view. May you trust that, above the clouds, the sun shines. And may you look at your present moment, with the people you love and the vision you hold in your heart, and embrace it with joy.

God placed you directly where you are, with the people He loves, to include you in the work He is doing.

The next time an eclipse travels across the lower United States, I will be 65. My oldest will be 33. We’ve decided, Lord willing, that we’re going to meet up for the next one. Until then, I’ll be looking for the glory.

Presently Engaged Podcast

Short, friendly encouragement to live intentionally right where you are!