A moon shadow visited North Carolina. It traveled as only light can, streaking across the sky in a strange and majestic palette. The sky held snakes of white, crescents of red, coronas of brightness. Darkness and light played with each other and against each other — fun and powerful, serious and strange.
In this moment, light was not meant for anything beyond its own essence — not for warmth, not to illuminate the way. Light was just light, valid in and of itself, a living entity.
August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse moved across the United States of America. From Oregon to Idaho to Missouri. Then on to South Carolina, and into my home in North Carolina. It will quickly continue its journey out of the United States, a rare trajectory, passport not required. This is bigger than any border patrol, a force not to be reckoned with, but rather to be acknowledged with tremendous humility.
Around two in the afternoon, the quality of light changed into something I couldn’t identify. I turned off the artificial lights to welcome the experience. Looking outside at the small forest in our back yard, some leaves still caught sunlight, but most held the deep green of night. The house turned dark, as though the light from the still-blue sky no longer spread in its usual style. By 2:45, the sky was still oddly blue, but the lawn was blanketed in shade, with odd patches of sunlight. Somehow, the atmosphere was both bright and dark, a layered complexity beyond my ability to comprehend. The air held a curious glow, a gold tinge. As I searched for words to describe what was unfolding, the eclipse was already moving on. By 3PM, the day’s second dawn entered my home and the light turned familiar.
I’ve rarely felt simultaneously so inept with writing and so comfortable with my own limitations. This eclipse was meant to surpass the scope of my abilities. Call it Nature, or God, or Science, or just plain Amazing — I find its power both astonishing and comforting. If another moon shadow ever decides to visit, I’ll turn out the artificial lights once again to give the eclipse the full playing field. I’ll look out on our trees and watch the leaves. I’ll feel saturated with light, with darkness and with gratitude.
Amy Kaufman Burk is a blogger and author of two novels. Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable, written in reaction to seeing gay students bullied in high school, follows Caroline Black through tenth grade as her new high school opens her world. Tightwire, Amy’s second novel, continues to follow Caroline, this time as a rookie psych intern treating her first patient — a stormy, brilliant, troubled young man who ran away from the circus to find himself. Amy blogs about a variety of subjects including the resistance, parenting, LGBTQ+ ally support and a Rolling Stones concert. She also collaborates with educators who include her work in their curriculum.
To learn more about Amy’s novels, visit her Author Page on Amazon.