We had been hearing about it for some time, this lunar eclipse. After attending a Good Friday liturgy last evening I even mentioned it to my kiddos.
“Who wants to see the eclipse tomorrow morning?” They both sounded excited in their response even when I told them they would have to rise before 6:45AM. “Yes, Daddy, we can do it!”
Something strange happens to both man and beast, though, when the moon dips in and out of earth’s shadow.
At precisely 5:46 this morning my Jack Russell started going bonkers. This was not the normal “wake up and let me out into the yard” type of barking. I got out of bed and stumbled to the back door where I watched as the dog bolted past me. He ran ahead a few feet and then simply stopped and sat, eyes fixed toward the western horizon. I looked up with him and saw it. There it was; a bright yellow disc with a big bite missing.
“OK,” I thought, “give the kids about an hour and then this thing should be in full swing.”
The time came to wake them. I tried gently waking my son. “Don’t you wanna’ go see the eclipse?!” I said, channeling what I thought would be my six year-old boy’s excitement. FYI, it’s not hard for me to channel that since I very often have the mindset of a six year-old little boy myself.
He rolled over and mumbled something about sleep and how he’d rather stay in bed.
Let’s try the girl.
“Sweetheart,” I said, “Do you want to see the lunar eclipse?!”
She was a bit more expressive in her hatred for my actions. She was also a bit kinder too.
Opening her bleary hazel eyes she looked intently at me. Actually she was squinting because she didn’t have her glasses.
“No!” She rolled over and then back toward me. “What’s a eclipse again?”
Never missing an opportunity to set my children up for success from a grammar standpoint I replied: “An eclipse, sweetie, and it’s when the moon goes inside the earth’s shadow.” She thought for a moment. “No.”
To hell with them. I’ll watch it myself and then they’ll be sorry. Yeah. I’ll show those two. I’ll even get a picture. A great big selfie with the moon!
Only, when I stepped on my porch this time I could not see the moon. They did say it would be low on the horizon. I got in my car and drove around. The problem was that the sun had already made her way mostly over the eastern horizon. No worry, though, as the meteorologists had promised this thing would be visible.
A moment later I had found it. And I found myself in a neighborhood 7-11 parking lot staring at it. It was beautiful, though not as impressive as I had hoped. They promised this one would be a “blood eclipse”, that the moon would be cast in shades of crimson by the diffusive light. Still looked kind of yellow to me.
In fact, it looked kind of white.
After five minutes my wife texted me. “Where is it? I’m at home and I don’t see it.” I wrote back that it was there, just low in the sky. “I’m looking at it right now,” I said with an air of superiority that I alone of our family had resolved to see this thing.
Boy won’t they be sad they missed this. They totally missed their chance to see a neat little white disc get gobbled up by a dark shadow. They will not be able to say “I saw that little disc that doesn’t appear to be moving anywhere.” Come to think of it, shouldn’t it have set a little further by now? That’s OK. It’s the moon. It can do as it pleases. It can reverse course for all I care. I’m the one looking at the eclipse, not them. Ha!
I felt confident in my astronomical photography skills enough that I aimed for another picture. As I adjusted the camera on my iPhone something came into focus – not only in my mind but also on the screen. I asked myself aloud:
“Since when has the moon been propped up on a 30-foot pole?”
And then like the sun speeding into her place in the sky at my back, it dawned on me.
I had spent fifteen minutes of my life staring at a tornado siren in the distance.
Dejected, I drove home. Along the way I came to some conclusions. First, we need a doggy-door. Second, despite my lunacy (did you catch that?) the moon can still do as she pleases. Finally…
The children must never know.