I watched as the sun was swallowed by the moon. I donned my groovy glasses and stood with neighbors in the cul-de-sac, staring at the sun as it was eclipsed by the darkness of the moon. The wonder and awe of it was overwhelming.
Understanding the science of it only magnifies the wonder. You see, the moon is much smaller than the sun. But with the right circumstances it can block out the light entirely. Amazing! In that zone, the day becomes like night. The crickets sing and the activity of the earth stills while cloaked in shadows. But only for a small sliver of a path across the earth. For those outside the path, the sun is only partially obscured by the moon. Leaving various degrees of the ball of light peeking out. Only subtle shadowing and stillness happen. It takes a more observant eye to perceive.
Science is very cool. Nature has so much to teach us.
Our family did not travel to the path of totality. I wasn’t expecting to be as wonder-struck. I also wasn’t anticipating getting see any bit of the corona – that light that peeks out around the rim of the moon. So, I was thrilled when I could see a hazy glow, a softening of the sky around the partial eclipse. If I let my eyes relax in a gaze at the center of the moon, I could see the glimmering veil of light around the sun. The moon was doing her best to blot out the light but it simply could not be done. Even in totality, the rim of light remains.
Earlier in the day, I gathered with others at Richmond’s newest monument, of Maggie Lena Walker. As I looked up at her, I wondered if she ever would have imagined beholding such a sight. People of every color, gender, age, and faith linking hands and bridging the divides. The crowd was full of distinctive difference.
There were many faces I recognized and many more I did not. Of the Baptists in the crowd, there were many who I have never once stood in unity with since I came back to this city four years ago. When I have stood witness to inclusive love and welcome, they have shut their doors and scoffed from the sidelines. I have longed for us to be able to stand together, affirming that every human being is the created image of God. On this day, I have to admit the actualization of that longing felt a bit awkward, even if right.
We were there with a common purpose, to stand as an alternative narrative to the story of hate, racism, and violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville. A darkness that seemed to swallow the light.
In response to the torches, the terror, and the murder, a group of Richmond ministers put together powerful words articulating “with a unified voice” both sorrow over those events in Charlottesville and speaking of the relevance of the gospel’s clear and relevant voice in this moment. This Statement of Unity affirms “every human being is created in the image of God”; rejects “the ideology of white supremacy as a denunciation of the gospel, and a heresy which wars against God’s design for human culture and creation”; repents of the church’s complicity and of our own racism, fear, and hatred. It concludes with our resolution “to preach, teach, and advocate against the sins of racism…to lead in the way of love.”
And so we stood, in the steamy heat of an August day in the city of Richmond, gathered around the statue, hand in hand with friends, foes, and strangers to say with a unified and clear voice that we believe our city can be a beacon of hope and reconciliation. It was a beautiful corona of light.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – The Gospel of John 1:5