Tomorrow’s Solar Eclipse over America has caused great excitement over the weeks before it happens.
Enjoy this post from someone taken by surprise by a partial solar eclipse.
And if you’re watching the eclipse tomorrow, enjoy it. May the clouds part for you!
Out in the fresh, green world, where thrushes sing so madly, the sweets of the morning are waiting to be gathered – more than enough for all, low at our feet, higher than we can reach, wide enough even for the travelling soul. Joy rushes in with the rain-washed air, when you fling the window wide to the dawn and lean out into the clear purity before the light, listening to the early “chuck-chuck” of the blackbird, watching the pulse of colour beat higher in the east.
Joy is your talisman, when you slip out from the sleeping house, down wet and gleaming paths into the fields, where dense canopies of cobwebs are lightly swung from blade to blade of grass. Then the air is full of wings; birds fly in and out of the trees, scattering showers of raindrops as they dash from a leafy chestnut or disappear among the inner fastnesses of a fir. Pinions of dark and pinions of day share the sky, and over all are the brooding wings of unknown presences.
The east burns; the hearts of the birds flame into music; the wild singing rises in a swelling rhythm until, as the first long line of light creeps across the meadows, the surging chorus seems to shake the treetops.
I love watching for sunrises
I mean surprises
proclaiming without fanfare that
we are not selfish
pre-determined muddles but have
at least a sky’s worth
of space in us just waiting for
that warm sunrise of
empathy and so here is one
Mister Darwin sir
fossils prove Neandertals cared
for the weakest ones
in their tribe and didn’t leave them
to die oh surprise
for love loved the most fragile and
not just the fittest
and survives from barely biped
to barely upright
humans God I love sunrises
Sister Johanna sees more sunrises than most of us. If I got up as early as she does, with a ladder and some glasses I could see to Minster marshes – if it wasn’t for the houses in between. Let’s enjoy her sharing the blessings of sunrise. An appropriate image to ponder when we have the feast of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth tomorrow, a truly ‘warm sunrise of empathy’ and a neat challenge to Darwin.
Margate Sunset, as beloved by JWM Turner.
My wife’s nursing magazine says this is ‘Sun Awareness Week’. I’m more aware of the cold North Wind today.
However the weather, here is a reflection on the sun, on not taking things for granted – and, appropriately after Christopher’s post yesterday, the Our Father. Click on the link to read Fr James Kurzynski’s post from the Vatican Observatory website.
If you shed tears when you miss the sun,
you also miss the stars.
Stray Birds VI, Collected Poems and Plays p287.
Masefield asked for a star to steer by.
The Magi had a star to steer by.
But they could only see it in the darkness, when the sun was absent.
that long solemn moment called Before –
Before the dawn, when deepest darkness reigns,
I rise from sleep in blackest night once more
content without sun’s reassuring flames.
I like to be awake to see the mild
rays begin – gently – lifting the sleeping night.
Just so, the father lifts the sleeping child.
Just so, their advent fills my sky with light.
One of the things that had early enamoured the delegation’s Director of that strange planet called Earth was the presence of not one, not two, but five major salt water oceans. The Director’s home planet, within the sprawling Ossyrian Confederation, possessed many stunning streams and a few shallow lakes – most of liquefied ammonia but a few world-famous tourist attractions that ran with the mirror-brightness of molten mercury – but these were mainly for aesthetic admiration and nearby inhabitants rarely went in for a paddle or dip. Stunned by the beauty of the opalescent North Sea channel between east Kent and what he reckoned must be northern Belgium, which seemed to change colour with every mood of the capricious sky in an antipodal love affair that would have done justice to any couple – bickering or dewy-eyed – found in the classics of terrestrial literature, he would spend long hours along the shore; hunting for treasures that might litter the sand, or simply staring into the endless blue. And then, while stranded in the sun-drenched daydream called California, he had screwed up his nerve on a particularly sultry day and taken the plunge.
Oh, yes!! The memory washed over him like the sloppy kiss of a saucy courtesan with impossible emerald-coloured skin as soft as watered silk and gold dust swirling in her eyes. Though she could dance with abandon and even (when out of sorts) be dangerous, the unselfconsciously beautiful Pacific owned a touch that both soothed and tingled, relaxed yet stimulated, all of his weary senses. The Chihuahuas, safely ensconced in England, either with Mrs. Fox in Cornwall or Will Turnstile’s raucous tribe closer to home in Canterbury, were never forgotten as he floated on the soft swells and then, emboldened, body surfed the crashing waves of blue-green foam. No, not forgotten but perspective was regained. As the mystic said long ago, all would be well, all manner of things would be well.
GOOD morning, Life – and all
Things glad and beautiful.
My pockets nothing hold,
But he that owns the gold,
The Sun, is my great friend –
His spending has no end.
A Greeting, W. H. Davies
The Welsh poet W.H. Davies lost a leg jumping a train in America, but unembittered, went on to write of gladness and beauty. Back in February I was changing trains and noticed the low sunlight reflected off the rails. I had only a minute or so to stand and stare; while my picture does not do the sight justice, for there was gold in the morning sun that day.
The shining rails reminded me of Blake’s lines:
I give you the end of a golden string;
Only wind it into a ball,
It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate,
Built in Jerusalem’s wall.
To the Christians, William Blake.
I was on my way to work, not Heaven’s gate – or perhaps the golden thread that I am meant to follow takes me there, through my daily work?
Let us be thankful for the gifts we have received, and let us look up and pray, every day, for discernment.
In 2012 the Blake Society declared Chris Williams the winner of their competition to set these words to music. This links to the first performance in St James’ Piccadilly, London.
Image: Yale University via:
Margate Beach on a Grey Day
Here, well up there in the Northern Hemisphere, the approach of the Church’s great winter feasts is met by ever shortening days, grayish sunsets subtly shaded with pastel colour, and the gathering shadows of storm-rattled darkness. Even now, as I look out from the giant bay window in my flat toward a slate gray sea, it feels like a slow motion dawn rather than what the clock prosaically states is high noon. And the Church, in her time-tested wisdom, has properly situated the purple cloaked season of waiting and hoping within a test mirrored by nature herself- will the Son of Man ever return; will I ever witness the eastern blaze of a 5:00 AM springtime dawn seen through the very same bay window now shrouded in a feeble mist? One can hope, but for now all I can do is walk my two bemused dogs in the bookended darkness of a seven o’clock dawn and four thirty afternoon sunset.
I have had critics of the Church, harboring grave suspicions of pagan flashbacks, point out the total lack of biblical witness for the date of Christ’s birth, the unlikely probability of shepherds out in the fields in the dead of winter and, far worse, the close congruence of the decadent Roman Saturnalia with the newly minted Feast of the Nativity. Shopping frenzy beginning at mid-November and a near-universal expansion of waistlines don’t help- as a kindly Jehovah’s Witness picture framer said once, utterly confident that I would agree. It seems, though, as if the whole point has been missed. It is the ritual celebration of Christ’s birth and the expectation of God’s promise fulfilled – born of an indestructible hope- that are being celebrated and the vast stage of nature herself hosts the drama. Yes, the shortening days followed by the magic threshold of the Solstice, when that longed for flicker of light begins to wax stronger, formed the reason for the Saturnalia but this has been embodied by the small child laid in a manger; the hope for Emmanuel realized at last.