I am prone to worry. Two times recently I have been reminded of this.
First, we flew to Kentucky in a little plane to take in the total solar eclipse. We met my brother and his wife and sons. My brother has been planning for the eclipse for the last six months.
There were a number of uncertainties. Time: should we even go? Traffic: would it be impassable? The plane: would I vomit the whole way and be miserable? I braced myself for being completely miserable, and consoled myself that at least we would get home faster. Weather: would clouds obscure the eclipse? My brother was prepared to get up at 6am on Monday and drive farther into Kentucky.
“What if they actually got the wrong day?” I asked on the morning of the eclipse, as everyone around me rolled their eyes. (Don’t you feel sorry for Marnell?)
The weather was perfect, although brutally hot.
My nephew, sporting his eclipse shades. Below, his younger brother, trying to keep up!
The view of the partial eclipse through the glasses.
My hot man!
The moon, in all it’s splendor, completely obscuring the sun! A total eclipse is only possible, they say, because the sun is 400 times farther away than the moon, but also 400 times bigger. Could those numbers be accidental? (I’ve poached some photos from my sister-in-law, Reba.)
The exciting moment of mid-day sunset!
Why wasn’t it possible that the astronomers “got the wrong day?” Could it be that the solar system was designed in an orderly fashion? Could it be that a Mastermind touched the start button on the orbits and rotations, and that from that moment, they have been predictable and splendid?
As James Fenimoore Cooper said, “Never have I beheld any spectacle which so plainly manifested the majesty of the Creator, or so forcibly taught the lesson of humility to man as a total eclipse of the sun.”
I enjoyed the plane ride, too. We shot through banks of crisp clouds, the geometric plots of land and silvery pools of water lying below us like fantastic carpet. I got a bit queasy on the landing, but nothing bad.
Second, from the solar eclipse, I returned, in my spare time, to worrying about a different day. I returned to peeling and sticking miniature paper tables and chairs on a miniature wedding reception made by my friend Paul Miller. I began to worry about the solar system on the floor of the reception hall, and the timing and logistics of the day of our wedding.
The good news is that we have identified both a church and a reception facility in Elkhart that seat about 300 people. We also have identified a date: December 2, 2017.
The bad news is, I called my Grandpa Hoover out of curiosity, just to see how many relatives I have. On my dad’s side, I have 20 aunts and uncles, 67 cousins, and 124 children of cousins, for a total of 213. This figure does not include the spouses of my married cousins. On my mom’s side, my aunt estimated we have 137 family members.
Marnell figured up how many aunts, uncles, and cousins he has the other night: 370.
Then, we attend separate, large Mennonite churches. Total: 400.
This means there are over 1,000 people we could invite to our wedding, without counting school friends or co-workers or neighbors or people we just like. I keep sticking the miniature paper tables and chairs from Paul to the double-stick tape on the blueprint, then peeling them back off to try a different arrangement.
“Everything seems so huge!” I told Marnell, at a particular low moment this week.
“That’s because it is huge,” he said. “Although there’s one thing that isn’t huge!” He added. Our space!
(He has this knack for agreeing with my despair in such a way that I actually feel much better, and then making me laugh.)
And, then I remembered the eclipse.
Is it possible that the God who orchestrated a sun to be both 400 times larger and 400 times farther away than the moon can help us figure out what is most important for a wedding? Is it possible that the God who designed the solar system can give us wisdom about designing a floor plan? Is it possible that the faithfulness of God is as predictable as the orbit of the moon?
Marnell is gone this weekend, but I can hear him answering my questions with maybe? and then laughing at my doubt.
What a privilege, to serve the God of the majestic, both in the big and little details of our lives! In his timing, there are no “wrong days”, no missed rotations, and even no reasons to worry.