“GOD is always inviting us to climb higher, to go further, to draw closer. No matter how many possessions we may have, no possession in the world can equal the treasure of deep union with the God who created us, knows us through and through and loves us intensely. He calls us to let go of anything that brings only temporary happiness so that we can be free to receive his love and his gift of eternal joy!” - Pondering the Word – The Anawim Way Liturgical Meditations for August 21, 2017.
The solar eclipse was a glimpse of heaven for me. There was just no equivalence for it in my lifetime of experiences. It solidified for me the presence of the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth and how these two celestial bodies, the sun and the moon, though united momentarily for us to see, nothing fell down from the skies.
We cannot be oblivious as to how the moon got in front of the sun, yet the sun’s rays, the corona that forms after, were vividly on display, even if for a few moments.
Then, the mighty splendor of the diamond ring, as if promising us our treasured place in heaven.
Indeed, the heavens spoke to us when the solar eclipse happened on August 21, 2017 starting at 9:27 a.m. and its totality, its full splendor of the process, revealed to us at 10:21 a.m., briefly turning daylight into twilight, gracing the continental U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. The next total solar eclipse won’t occur in Oregon until the next century.
It was so precise, just like clockwork, that the whole process of unfolding took 54 minutes.
But to get there, we traveled north to Redding from LA, then proceeded to Madras, Oregon, a journey of 861 miles, and if driven straight, a 13-hour drive.
Our trip took a scenic, coastal drive of seven days, including visiting a friend who had moved to Redding, California and taking in two majestic wonders.
The Intermountain News Visitors Guide 2017 described McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park as the second oldest state park, which Theodore Roosevelt is believed to have once called it the eighth wonder of the world. It has the most spectacular waterfall, reaching 129 feet high and 22 feet deep, with more than 100 million gallons of water flow over the cliffs.
I tasted the sweetest water from their fountains and took the trail of 1.2 miles, which led me to a bench with this quote by William Butler Yeats: “Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild…”
The second wonder we got to was Crater Lake, a destination we have visited six times now. But to us, this gave us a new glimpse of the Sinnott Overlook, which “you can peer down a sheer drop of nearly 900 feet to the shore!” It also has the best exhibits while a park ranger talk entices you more to drive around the rim of the lake, which took us two to three hours, around the 33 mile perimeter of the lake, plus or minus, given the many stops to take different contours of the lake, including its many features: the castle, the wizard island and the pirate ship.
A few hours later, we got to Madras.
What happened in Madras, Oregon?
While thousands paid for a tent space and festival passes to see the eclipse at the fairgrounds and the city’s park, at $500 per person, we managed to have our prime spot at the Crooked River Grassland National Park, for free, along with 10 cars only over acreages of spaces. My husband Enrique did his research and knew exactly where to go to get us a campsite. It was even more reassuring as the road to the campsite was in front of the Madras’ correctional facility and the correctional officers told us, “There, camping is free,” and pointed to the road.
By Sunday, a day before the eclipse, we had run out of water in our newly configured kitchen sink inside the furnished van and got back to town to get more. Safeway was buzzing with crowds and vehicles. Starbucks’ barista said that the lines had been a block long since 6 a.m., and she appeared haggard already at 11 a.m.
When we got to camp, my husband joked that I was having an expensive shower of processed bottled water, but the experience was priceless.
I posted on Facebook that Sunday: “To shower in the desert is one of the best experiences, after being in the sun. To see the stars and its Milky Way with solitude, and with your hubby, was another one of my best experiences. Preparing to experience the solar eclipse, one of the closest to God’s divinity manifested, I am praying my shutter finger is quick enough as I keep myself protected with optical filters to take a historic shot, the last one happened in year 1257 in this part of Central Oregon.”
By Monday, we had already set up our tripods and positioned them towards the sky to capture the unfolding process. It started with a first bite of the sun, dubbed as the “moon’s first bite,” forming a crescent shape. As pieces of the sun were bitten by the moon, it left a visible orange sliver.
Yellow wildflowers had sprouted in few places, but mostly very dry soil that when you walked, you kicked up dust.
It then progressed into winds, insects buzzing loudly, while birds were tweeting, then, a chill, an eerie chill as earlier, moments earlier, it was sunny and bone dry at 80 F.
Then, the moon covers the sun completely, exposing a corona of sun’s rays, then a beautiful diamond. It made me think that perhaps as we develop more of our human strengths and start seeing same strengths of others, we can all glow with coronas shining brightly and in unity with one another, giving the world a lasting treasure in our lives, embodied in shimmering diamonds.
The eclipse darkened the surroundings, almost like nightfall, and just like a quick crescendo, the moon was gone and the sun was back.
You could hear the roars of folks watching the awesome phenomena of God’s divinity from the nearby fairgrounds and surrounding valleys.
To some, the eclipse was just a phenomenon, but to me it was heavenly. After everyone clapped and we could hear them from a mile down, as we camped near the ridges, closest to the sun. The last time it happened here in Madras, Oregon was 1257.
#thankstoadventuroushubby who did my manual settings and mounted my camera on the tripod. I am such a klutz when it comes to the camera, but his help enabled my success. Truly, my captured photos fell short of capturing the full splendor and vibrancy in this visible display of God’s miracle.
Just what Yeats said, “Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild…” but to me, we worshipped at the Cathedral of the Wild and God made us all feel His presence. Thank you, God, for this guided trip!
* * *
Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for the Asian Journal Press for nine years now. She also contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law, public service for three decades and community volunteerism for four decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier Law School in California and a certificate in 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She was a finalist in the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism awards in print columnist category along with Jewish Journal, Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter and online cultural critic category along with The New York Times, The Daily Beast and Truth Dig in 2016. She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for four years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has traveled to France, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Mexico and 24 national parks in the U.S, in pursuit of her love for arts. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and she has a Facebook account under Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz and Twitter account @ProsyDelaCruz.