It’s a word that we don’t hear very often. In fact, if it wasn’t for the total eclipse of the sun next Monday, many of us wouldn’t be exposed to it at all. According to the dictionary, an umbraphile is “a shadow lover. In terms of eclipse chasing, it means one who is addicted to the glory and majesty of total solar eclipses. This term is synonymous with eclipse chaser but implies a greater zeal.” That’s right – it’s a person who loves studying and observing eclipses – and next week they are once again going to have a field day.
For on Monday, August 21st, a little south of Indianapolis, in an arc that goes through the northwest and cuts across the country toward the southeast, citizens of the U.S. will be treated to a total eclipse of the sun. For those folks around here, Hendersonville, KY is the best place to view the totality of the event – for the area of total blackout will be about 69 miles wide. Here, we will get about 90% of the eclipse effect, but it will be next to impossible to find rooms or travel to areas that will experience the total blackout.
The totality, where it is visible, will last for about 2-1/2 minutes before the sun starts to peak out the other side of the moon. Companies are closing early, meetings are being cancelled and there are numerous parties being planned for the day. By the way, the last time the U.S. experienced a total eclipse was back on June 8, 1918 if you don’t count the one visible from Hawaii on July 11, 1991 and one that passed through parts of the northwest in 1979. We won’t have to wait that long for the next one, either. It will pass over the mainland United States on April 8, 2024.
But let’s face it, it is kind of cool… because many things happen during an eclipse that we don’t normally think about. For example, birds may stop singing and head to their nests. Nocturnal animals may come out and start to explore the terrain for their evening meal. Our pets may become confused and become a little disoriented. All these things are normal occurrences yet most of us have never experienced what happens during a a time of near total darkness in the middle of the day.
People who, hundreds of years ago, could predict eclipses were thought of as all powerful gods (notice the small g) and could write their own ticket with correct predictions. Of course, if they were wrong, it could also mean their death…
Our verse for the evening comes right out of the creation story in Genesis. We are told that God created the greater light and the lesser light – we think of them as the sun and the moon, but these heavenly bodies are so insignificant in the scheme of God’s awesome power that Moses doesn’t even reveal their names to us in the first chapters of Genesis. We are told, in Genesis 1:16-19, “God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.”
My encouragement tonight is that God wants us to be curious about and enjoy His creation. My prayer is that we all remember that we are stewards of the environment for future generations and it is up to us to make sure that do the best job we can to protect what God has created for us. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… and don’t forget – don’t look directly at the sun – it’s far too bright and even partially covered, can damage your eyes – even to the point of blindness…