By Julie Spangler
We Americans have just passed through "The Great American Eclipse”. It was a dramatic name for a dramatic event. Like most of the country, I waited eagerly for 10:20 AM to arrive in Seattle. It was awe-inspiring.
Seeing them all lined up, the three celestial bodies which makes life possible on our planet was a moving moment to reflect on. Celestial events always lead me to consider where I stand in the universe on a small planet revolving around a small sun on the outskirts of a huge galaxy. Our beautiful earth is a miracle worthy of love.
As part of the whole experience, I then watched the televised videos of the event as the shadow of the moon moved across the land, welcomed by crowds and news reporters all across the country sharing in the experience of the totality. I was shocked to see how suddenly darkness fell, how complete the darkness was, and then how swiftly light returned. At each location the event was welcomed with cheers and the joyful camaraderie of a community created simply to share a unique cosmic event at a moment in time. Very different from some more recent public gatherings of people in our country.
As I watched the news, they played a clip of Frank Reynolds, the ABC news anchor in 1979 when the last solar eclipse happened in the US: “So that’s it, the last solar eclipse to be seen on this continent in this century,” he said. “As I said, not until August 21, 2017, will another eclipse be visible from North America.”
“That’s 38 years from now,” he continued. “May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace.”
Hearing this, I found myself gripped by a grief which I still feel. May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace. It did not. People the world over pray for peace, march for peace, work and write for peace, yet our world continues to display war and violence. Suddenly I am in touch with the grief I have buried in the face of all of the news we are bombarded by daily of those tortured parts of our planet where people and families and communities are torn asunder by violence.
With Frank's words, though, I am also made aware of our collective expectation that global peace is possible. I am deeply moved by the way humans continually envision a future of peace. In the '70's we marched for peace with the hopeful, expectant youthful belief that we could make it happen. One war ended. Others began.
Unlike many of my fellow students who thought taking down the government would solve our problems, I believed that the only way to make such changes was for each individual to be at peace within him or herself, to seek a spiritual center which does not foster violence. Often violence comes from dark unintegrated parts of our past which can lead us to strike out. It is the task of each of us to find the courage to uncover those parts, to see them, name them and reclaim them as part of our wholeness. There are many teachings and approaches to help us do this, but first we must look at how we choose to act and take responsibility for it.
The shadow of the moon imposed an unusual darkness during the daylight, a darkness that unexpectedly brought things up to be examined. As we enter times of darkness when things go bump in the night, we may find ourselves confronting those things which hide inside us from the light of day. They may sneak up on us, taking us by surprise as I was, or they may erupt suddenly and forcefully. For me, this grief for my world in the grip of so much violence has always been there, but I manage to keep it under the bed so that I can function in my day. The eclipse and Frank Reynolds brought it back into the light of my consciousness.
We are in a time when the violence and hatred in the collective is erupting all over the world. Is there more violence than there has been in the past? Are we in a time in the cycles of the world where hidden distortions at the heart of humanity are brought to the surface - shadows of the collective past - so that they can be seen and dealt with? Or is it simply that with the speed of communications and connections these days we are seeing the violence and hatred more clearly and more immediately, again bringing to our awareness that which isn't normally visible? Will being made more aware of it allow us to finally address the hurt and pain in the human experience in order to bring healing to the species? In any case, we are seeing it and if we are to see a future where the next shadow of the moon can fall on a peaceful world, we must act toward that goal.
I still believe that the path to peace is a personal one. It requires us each to be attentive to those buttons which lead us to violent thoughts, words or behaviors. And it also requires us to reach out to each other with love and caring, recognizing and accepting our differences. What a boring, colorless world it would be if we were all the same.
With Frank Reynolds, I also wish for the shadow of the next eclipse to fall on a world without war. And given that the next eclipse is in 2019, I suspect that it will not. But this knowledge does not have to stop me from holding the intention for global peace, and as we are aware, subtle effects can have impact. The more people holding a vision of global peace, the closer we get to it. One day, through the efforts of us all, it will be the reality we live in.
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