Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

What We See When Our Vision Clears


On Aug. 21, the day of the total solar eclipse across the U.S., Nicholar Kristoff of the New York Times viewed totality in Salem, Ore, and wrote:

“First the appeal of the solar eclipse is not just it rarity, but the way it puts us in our place. It disrupts the routines we rely on and reminds us of the vastness, beauty and rigor of the solar system.  One moment, we are masters of the universe. The next, the moon occludes the sun and we have to wait for light to reappear.”

Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Harvey added an exclamation point to the thought that so much is in God’s hands – and out of ours. As folks in greater Houston, east Texas and west Louisiana began to rebuild after historic flood waters receded, The Weather Channel went into almost-nonstop coverage of Hurricane Irma – a Category 5 storm as I type these words.

Over the Labor Day weekend, I thought a lot about these historic natural events – the awe-inspiring beauty of the solar eclipse, and the shock-and-awe inspiring devastation of Hurricane Harvey (and, now, Irma). Actually, I thought most about the human reactions.

People came together for the eclipse – and in response to Harvey and, most recently, Irma. During the eclipse, we were all one family enjoying one of the most amazing of God’s blessings. Frankly, I got disgusted hearing “experts” throw in terms like “lucky coincidence” when describing the relative positions of the earth, its moon and the sun, which collectively make the wonder of totality possible.

This is not some random event; it’s not a coincidence. One reporter for a national TV network came out of totality with tears, but no explanation for them. I can explain them. Based on my personal experience, at least, tears flow easily when we realize we truly are in the presence of God.

Similar tears flow freely when we find ourselves in the presence of suffering, as is the case in the aftermaths of Harvey and Irma.

What I have seen in these events has helped me to understand – at least a little more – that we come together as a real, true family in times like these.

  • We don’t see skin color
  • We don’t see ethnicity
  • We don’t see immigration status
  • We don’t see conservative or liberal


  • We see God in wondrous natural events like the eclipse
  • We see brothers and sisters in need during crises like those Harvey and Irma created

Here are my questions – and I hope you will think about and pray about them:

  • Why do so many of us NOT see God – and NOT see brothers and sisters (let alone brothers and sisters in need) – every time we look around?
  • Has it ever occurred to you that the better things are going in our world, the worse we behave toward one another – and toward God?

We should not need awesome natural events and/or catastrophic natural disasters for our collective vision to clear.