This past Monday, the 21st, was the day of the solar eclipse, and verses from Mark came to mind:
But in those days, after that distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give her light; the stars will come falling from the sky, the celestial powers will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory, and he will send out the angels and gather his chosen from the four winds, from the farthest bounds of earth to the farthest bounds of heaven (13: 24-27).
The words are from Jesus to his disciples. Prompted by their admiration of impressive temple (and temporal) buildings, Jesus informs them that “Not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down” (2). The theme throughout this discourse in Mark 13 is great destruction precedes the coming of the Lord, and Jesus drives the idea home with metaphor after metaphor.
Of course, as always, Jesus is talking about the inward condition/nature of human beings, not about the outward condition of nature.
What is it that must be eclipsed within? What inward light of nature must be witnessed as dark futility, as death, before the new creation, the Son of Man, comes and replaces that old creation of human nature?
I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
– from “Journey of the Magi” by T.S. Eliot
The truth of our limitations is “hard and bitter agony for us” mortals, but choosing it over self-delusion leads to eternal life. It is the way, and when allowed daily to prevail, it will diminish us until the light of our nature – our hope and trust in our natural powers – is all but gone: “the celestial powers…shaken.” It is not the end, but only the end of the alienated condition: our nature eclipsed by the coming of the Son of Man. “And what I say unto you, I say unto all. Watch” (37).
Watch the light of nature undergo the eclipse…within.