It’s hard to put into words, the enchantment.
But there we were, my husband and I, in a large field in Madras, Oregon, with thousands of others. All heads tilted skyward, watching the moon nibble away at the sun.
It was as if I understood cosmic depth for the first time. What had felt flat, now appeared three dimensional as I watched the primeval dance of earth, moon, and sun unfold. I thought, this is it: I am tumbling into the sky.
Then, total eclipse. I had expected complete darkness, but wham, all around the abyss-black moon a corona of light so bright I gasped. The air filled with whoops of primal joy. Hands pumped, people howled. We were wrapped in sunset skies. 360 degrees of setting suns, it seemed. The air was eerily chilled.
It barely felt like planet Earth anymore. I was transported.
In this world, the fiery sun protected the dark moon, encircled her in passion. Here was darkness so dark it was impenetrable, and light that seared from the sky with such intensity it was shocking. I saw in that moment, the perfect balance of masculine and feminine. The moon then slipped slightly to the side, and a fiery diamond of light appeared to the right of it. The sun had begun its return.
One woman I met told me it was the greatest natural high she had ever experienced. People grinned at each other. Swallows, silent only moments before, took to the skies like drunken pilots. Lovers kissed. The world reclaimed its color. Kids laughed out loud. I felt a jolt of ecstasy in every cell of my body.
For hours afterwards, despite rising heat, traffic that did not move, endless waiting, no one seemed to get mad. No one said it wasn’t worth it.
In a moment of magical thinking, I imagined that when I returned to the everyday world, it would be changed. Tyrants would have tumbled, people would have woken up, goodness would reign.
But nothing was different. Except, perhaps, the hearts and souls of everyone who had stared up, enchanted, into that sky.