Easter in August - A Biblical Perspective on the August 21st Solar Eclipse

It's my pleasure to welcome guest blogger Gloria Barrett to Hungry for God. Gloria is a soon-to-be empty nester stepping back into writing as her last son transitions out of homeschooling and into college. When I read her beautiful, lyrical description of the coming solar phenomenon, I knew I wanted to share it here. Enjoy!

What is more welcome than a bit of shade on a blistering August afternoon? With the mercury often swelling into triple digits, shade is especially desirable here in the South. It’s frequently sought under porches, umbrellas, or moss draped oaks. But on August 21st, relief from the heat won’t come in a soft southern manner. It will pour down in biblical proportions. 

The Midlands of South Carolina will plunge into full darkness at 2:43pm for two minutes and 34 seconds, give or take a few, depending on exact location. The moon’s shadow will roll across the Palmetto state from the Blue Ridge to the Atlantic during a rare solar eclipse. 

Only those along the center line of the round shadow will experience the full solar eclipse for the greatest amount of time. To experienced stargazers, these extra seconds matter. 

Being in the center of the shadow will only be part of the plan, though. Weather can be a game-changer. Rain or heavy cloud cover will spoil the show. Clear skies will be best, but cirrus clouds will scatter with the cooling temperatures. A dismal forecast will no doubt clog the interstates with travelers gravitating toward the best skies of the day. 

While the main event will be happening overhead, a wide panoramic view will also delight. A spectacular show awaits in either direction, mimicking sunsets and sunrises in places they don’t belong. 

Thanks to all the information spilling forth from NASA, the Columbia area may experience a population increase usually reserved for the coast. After all, the 68-mile wide shadow won’t fall on most of the state, much less the rest of the eastern seaboard. 

People will gather in ballparks, stadiums, and open fields, on roof-tops, hilltops, and lakes, particularly Lake Murray. In addition to special protective eye wear, spectators will be wise to remember their customary summer defenses: sunscreen, hats, and bug spray. 

A rare and unnatural, yet predictable occurrence such as this defies adequate description. C.A. Young’s recount of the 1869 eclipse – which also took place on an August afternoon – stirs anticipation. “…the gradual darkening, the unnatural tints that discolor the landscape, the coming of the shadow, the fright of the birds and beasts and their sudden flight, and then, all at once, the instant blackening of the sky and the outburst of stars and the corona radiating out from behind the Moon as a sort of silvery star in a sky perfectly calm and unchangeable, and the ruby gems that stud the disc of the Moon; and then, after it is over, the sudden flash of light from the Sun - all these things, I say, taken together, constitute something which one who has seen it could never possibly forget.” 

As the moon sneaks along unseen, beginning to hinder the rays of the sun, the searing heat will suddenly give way to breezy spring-like air. Nature will respond. Crickets will usher in a glorious mid-day nightfall. Owls will begin to stir, while Whippoorwills hush. When the moment of totality arrives, a black circle will pierce the eerie night sky, an empty tomb with the stone rolled back. 

Reminiscent of the darkness that hung with Jesus on the cross from noon until 3 p.m., this current day’s darkness will illuminate the Lord’s hand in this world. The creator has choreographed this celestial dance for three—the sun, moon, and earth—each powerless in their roles. Likewise, shaded spectators will be able to do nothing more than gawk, stunned with smallness. 

How marvelous that God would, in the beginning, set these spheres into place so their paths would intersect in such beauty. As the sun emerges, roosters will crow, recalling Peter’s guilt which is not his alone. Hearts will rejoice in the knowledge of Christ’s resurrection. With renewed hope, believers will long for the eternal city which beckons to the hearts of mankind far more than a repeat performance of totality. 

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there” (Rev. 23-25). 

May the message of Easter resonate in your hearts as you witness this celestial experience. 

Gloria Barrett’s official entry into the empty nest phase coincides with this year’s solar eclipse. On August 21 her youngest son will partake in the Clemson University new student convocation. She’s a graduate of Converse College, has three children, and resides in Lexington.

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