PeerSpirit Newsletter – The Owl and the Tree
Dear Friends of PeerSpirit,
Christina and Ann head to Germany this week for the Global Circle Way Fire Gathering, followed by a trip to Ireland. They’ll be writing about that experience in our next newsletter.
For this month, we turn our attention to the recent total solar eclipse and our reactions to it.
The Importance of the American 2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Reflection in Three PeerSpirit Voices
by Christina Baldwin, Ann Linnea, and Debbie Dix
The total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 made its trajectory across the breadth of the American continent, travelling over what is often referred to as “the heartland.”
Scientists were masterful in predicting, educating, and involving the ordinary public in this natural event. The premier website for this outreach is the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) website: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/how-eclipses-work. Everything from how eclipses work to locally scheduled events to rarely seen phenomenon were documented on this excellent site.
Christina and Ann and a dozen friends gathered in Washington state in the meadow of one friend’s home. When a two-year-old neighbor came over with his father to see what was happening, Christina became a momentary grandma determined to keep his eclipse glasses on so he would not burn his eyes. Henry squinted skyward and asked, “Are we’s looking at the piecrust?”
As the season shifts from summer to fall and world events literally eclipse the eclipse, we at PeerSpirit are determined to keep tethering ourselves to that moment when millions and millions of people were all looking at the same piecrust.
We experienced 92% of totality on Whidbey Island, but Debbie and her family gathered in Corvallis, OR, 300 miles away, for the total eclipse. She describes her experience:
Totality. The word itself suggests something immense and complete. Sitting in the backyard of our son’s rental house in Corvallis, we waited for the moment (or rather 1 minute 39 seconds) when the moon would completely cover the sun. As the time got closer, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped noticeably, and our surroundings became eerily darker.
We had spent the previous weekend attending the OSU 150 Space Grant Festival: A Total Eclipse Experience at Oregon State University, where our son is a student. OSU faculty, students, and special guests offered talks about the eclipse, gamma ray bursts, meteorites, rocketry, and other space-related subjects. There were activities for people of all ages (Touch a meteorite!; Look through a telescope at the night sky; Make your own eclipse viewer; Visit a gallery to see eclipse-related art, etc.) All offered free to the public, and attended by a large and diverse group of people – the very essence of a public university’s mission. In these turbulent times, it was truly heartening to see so many people coming together to learn and be awed by this natural event…
America is an incredibly divided society right now and the spectacle of millions of people standing or sitting and looking in the same direction is awesome. The sun called us to full salutation: heads back, hearts open. This is a vulnerable position, exposed to one another as well as to the sky, a shared stance taken alongside neighbors and strangers without asking first about politics or religion, citizenship or immigration status.
Demos is the Greek word for “people:” kratia is the Greek word for “power, rule, authority.” So “demoskratia” means power residing in the strength of the people. And the English derivation, “democracy” means a system of government in which the power to rule is vested in the people. The people have nearly lost the power to rule -but the eclipse reminds us that we can rise up in awe and look together in a similar direction. Now the question remains: what events will we allow to call us back to this unified stance?