The autumnal equinox falls on September 22 this year. That’s when the sun rises due east of us and sets due west of us–no matter where we are. An astronomical marvel! (Here’s a lovely explanation, with diagrams: earthsky.org.)
We’ve seen some amazing astronomical events recently, haven’t we? Our office happened to be closed on the day of the solar eclipse last August (thank you, leaky pipe). So I got to hang out in my back yard and look at it with a pinhole viewer made out of a shoebox. Where were you when the eclipse came? Wasn’t it fascinating?
Burst into tears
My favorite weather forecaster was broadcasting from downstate, in the path of eclipse totality. He was so moved by the sight, so moved by this astronomical marvel that he’d never had the chance to see before, that he burst into tears right there on camera.
I think any of us who’ve been moved to tears by a marvel can understand. A long time ago, I got to visit Europe with my church choir. We visited some fabulous places, surrounded by art and history and meaning. And in every one of those places, at least one of us choristers began to weep, swept away by the wonder of it all.
At the last stop on our trip, the pastor wrapped up our experience in his sermon. He pointed out that he’d seen tears in the eyes of every one of us at some point along the way. And, he said, when we’re so moved we can only weep–whether we’re set off by art or nature or faith–that’s the touch of the Holy Spirit.
Weep with joyful wonder
I don’t suppose my favorite weatherman, who wept at the sight of the total eclipse, would describe his experience that way, but I would. The Holy Spirit moved upon the waters at creation, after all, and I’m sure the Holy Spirit moves upon the moon and sun and earth–as well as in the hearts of all God’s children who weep with joyful wonder at what the Lord has made.
When was the last time the Holy Spirit moved you to tears?
Audrey Novak Riley, former director for stewardship and development, has been moved to tears by all kinds of things. A neighbor’s big shaggy puppy rolling over for a tummy rub even before being introduced was only the latest.
This post first appeared in September 2017.