The longest night of the year, December 21, 2010, there is a rare, full lunar eclipse, though we cannot see it because it is hidden behind the clouds.
The last lunar eclipse I am aware of occurred on February 21, 2008, the night our daughter was killed. I worked late that night, mounting a customer’s flat screen television and hooking up her surround sound system. The woman told me that her son was fighting in Iraq. She said she only kept herself from worrying to death by not thinking about his safety. I was silently grateful that my daughter was away at college and not at war.
When I got out of my truck at home, I paused to view the eclipse with no sense of ill omen or impending doom. I’m not superstitious. I went into the house and greeted my wife, Jill, as if our lives would go on in the same blessed way forever. Later, the clouds moved in, and, while we slept, it began to rain. Our daughter was dead before we woke, though we didn’t know it. I have often tormented myself with the thought that I missed something, that I failed to apprehend some obvious message that, had I really been paying attention, could have prevented disaster.
I don’t know what it means that this year’s lunar eclipse occurs on the winter solstice. Now it seems a particularly portentous event. To add to my anxiety, this morning’s devotional reading is from June 23rd, our daughter’s birthday. It recounts Jesus’ parable of the reluctant wedding guests. Eugene Peterson, the author of the devotional book, says, “We are faced with a life and death summons. The responses we make to God in Christ are the stuff of eternity.”
It is raining again. It is raining, and I am listening. Surely there is some decipherable message here, if I can only find the key to unlock its meaning, if I only I had the ears to hear. I am paying attention, now. I observe the signs. Someone is trying to tell me something. Still, nothing makes any sense...