Wow! What an Event. I read in the Wall Street Journal Monday night that “maybe 40 million people across the U.S. looking at the same thing at the same time.” The last total solar eclipse crossed the U.S. in 1918.
In Provo, Utah I knew we weren’t in the diagonal corridor, and honestly, to travel to Idaho or Wyoming? I wasn’t feeling it.
My daughter Abby got to Thermopolis, Wyoming because she was lucky enough to get an invite from a friend, whose parents live there. She told me on her way out-of-town, that in Utah, the visibility was 93%. With that, my interest quickened. At our family dinner the night before, as we were discussing the eclipse, my nephew said, “Oh, my mother ordered glasses for us a couple of months ago.” I started feeling angsty.
Monday morning my son and I drove to four stores looking for glasses. At Wal-Mart we were told “We haven’t had those for a couple of weeks.”
I realized later, as I was searching for sunglasses, I had the same sense of one of the unwise virgins in the parable of the Ten virgins. It was too late. I was going to miss the boat. Something that had been talked about for months was going to happen without me. It helped remind me how important it is to pay attention and be prepared.
We were lucky. We were attending BYU Education Week and they had an “Eclipse” booth that told the exact time of the eclipse and had sun glasses to share. We loved seeing the shadows on the tree change into crescent moon shapes and our hands had knobs on them. There was also a surreal feeling on campus because people were standing still, waiting for the special time. Education Week is always about people focused on getting to class, not a standing-around-party-atmosphere. I was also surprised at the temperature drop when most of the sun was covered. In another article I read, the temperature dropped 22 degrees in Wyoming and someone said, “It made me realize how important the sun is.”
Victor L. Brown was the Presiding Bishop when I was growing up. In a talk that he gave in a General Conference in 1982 he said:
“Many of these problems exist today because we did not prepare yesterday. These problems are not insurmountable to those who are prepared. Neither do they come as a surprise to those who have been listening. Here are just a few of the areas upon which we have received counsel:’
“In 1935, President George Albert Smith said, “This very day upon which we meet here to worship [the Sabbath] has become the play-day of this great nation—the day set apart by thousands to violate the commandment that God gave long, long ago, and I am persuaded that much of the sorrow and distress that is afflicting and will continue to afflict mankind is traceable to the fact that they have ignored his admonition to keep the Sabbath day holy.” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1935, p. 120.)
“In 1937, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., said, “Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt let us get out of debt.” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1937, p. 26.)’
“In 1970, President Harold B. Lee said, “For thirty years the leaders of this church have been telling us to store food and to prepare for a rainy day. We have listened, many have paid no attention, and now suddenly disaster begins to strike and some of those who have been slothful are running to the banks and taking out their savings, and buying … foodstuffs.’ (Welfare agricultural meeting, 4 Apr. 1970.)
“And, finally, in 1974 President Spencer W. Kimball said, “The earth cannot justify nor continue its life without marriage and the family. Sex without marriage, for all people, young or older, is an abomination to the Lord, and it is most unfortunate that many people have blinded their eyes to these great truths.’ (In Conference Report, Oct. 1974, p. 9.)
“How many of today’s problems could have been avoided or coped with more effectively if we had followed the counsel given in just these few examples?”
I realize that some things can’t be shared, like a testimony or a temple recommend. Those are our own personal stewardships to be polished daily or to be put on a shelf with an occansional visit. That’s up to us. Likewise, the wise virgins can’t share their oil, having prepared themselves for the Bridegroom. Having that small amount of panic this week was a gift. It has made me thoughtful about my preparations temporally and spiritually. Late summer is a great time to take stock of all those categories. Especially to freshen up my food storage. Just in case.