As I write this words, it’s a couple days after the Big Eclipse. Caught up in all the excitement, I hit the road, headed for the zone of totality. What a cool, nerdy term: zone of totality…the place where It happens, 100%, the mind/blowing holy grail. Yes, I have a tale to tell, a much-needed road trip, ending up in Blairsville, GA — saving the details for Rosh HaShannah.
It’s funny how the hype and the shpiel play out: t-shirts (of course I got one!), breathless Super bowl flavored TV coverage, the search for the absolute best spot. On one level the building excitement took me back sev-eral years to a week of silent meditation up in Spirit Rock in Marin, California. When the moon rose in the early evening it looked like a sunrise painted in luminescent silver; definitely beyond adequate verbal descrip-tion. My teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, shared some remarks (the teachers speak from time to time, the students maintain silence) that night. She joked about how each of us can conjure up our favorite flavor or shape of the moon or fill-in-the-blank, and that we easily fall into the habit of chasing down that perfect ideal — for-getting to be present to the miraculous present moment.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, of blessed memory, coined the term ‘radical amazement,’ the awed aware-ness of the world in which we live. I was chasing the hype of totality. But the night before the eclipse, I looked up, utterly silenced by the milky way and countless shimmering jewels. And I thanked God for the gifts — beyond number — evening, morning, noon — a universe of miracles awaiting our opened eyes and opened hearts. In our heads we know that wonders surround us each and every day. But our routines usually distract us from the totality all around us. Sometimes we just have to get out of town, put away our stuff, and pay attention. If an eclipse entices us to chase the moment, that’s just fine. But even without the hype, with-out the search for the ultimate seat at the ultimate show — we can – and should – slow down and open up to the totality of the moment. Life flies by ever so quickly.