Watching the eclipse, I can’t be the only one who was reminded of I Corinthians 13:12 (KJV): “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part, but then shall I know as also I am known.”
Scholars believe that St. Paul was referring to seeing one’s reflection in a mirror. Mirrors of polished brass were common in Corinth, and the image was dim, requiring frequent polishing with powdered pumice in a sponge (think “Mr. Clean” Eraser!)
But from here, my mind took a metaphysical leap: we must not look directly at the sun, except through a “dark” (filtered) glass, or else we will have the retinas of our eyes burned by ultraviolet rays. We also cannot look directly at God, except through His reflections, or else we will have our human desires and understanding burned away.
There is, however, one point during the eclipse when we can take off the glasses and gaze directly at the completely occluded sun. At that point, there is total darkness, and the heavens may be filled with stars that are hidden by the light of day. This is a solemn, awe-inspiring moment, and one can understand why early mankind may have feared that the world was ending. The air around us cools; the animals are quiet. But after a short time, the light begins to appear again, and somehow we feel different, renewed…
Is this not like the moment of death? It is at that moment of total occlusion that we may look directly at the face of God, our humanity burned away and discarded, and emerge into the light again in a new form.