Eclipses and expectations

photo by steffenbuus, morgueFile.com
photo by steffenbuus, morgueFile.com

This is not the blog post I planned to write.

Earlier this morning, we had a lunar eclipse. I read about the coming event yesterday, and decided to watch after I got home from the gym. (I’m an early bird gym-goer. Get up at 3:30, hit the gym at 4:00, get home at 5:15.) The only issue was the weather. It had been drizzly, cloudy, and disagreeable for the past few days, but I was still hopeful that I would get to see the lunar eclipse.

Just think. A lunar eclipse. I’ll get great writing fodder . . . profound analogies . . . tie-ins to the eclipse scene in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Perfect blog material. Ecstatic, I was writing the post in my head before the event happened.

As that wise postmodern proverb tells us, don’t count your blog posts before they’re written.

The air was damp as I left the gym. I peered anxiously at the cloudy sky. The moon was there.

I drove home and walked to the front porch and looked up at the cloudy sky. The moon was still there.

I hopped in the shower, dried off, got dressed, made myself some hot cocoa, grabbed my notebook and pen, and walked to the front porch. It was raining. The moon had disappeared.

Disappointed, I went inside and sat in the darkness, trying to salvage the situation and what was left of my post. Slowly the rain subsided. I walked onto our back porch. Just in time, too: the moon was swallowed up by clouds.

I sat on the porch steps and watched as the moon flitted through the wispy clouds: flirting, teasing, dancing with cloud-veils swirling around her. The eclipse was happening, though I only saw hints of the action. The sky was clearing in other parts of the sky; stars shone, outlining the constellations that I can’t name but know exist.

Then rain poured down again.

Was this what I had envisioned? No.

Was this the blog post I had intended to write? No.

That’s life.

We expect one thing and that thing doesn’t meet our expectations. It’s different. Life takes detours from my mental road map, and one day I look up to realize that I’m someplace I never intended to be.

  • That place might be bad, like the time I took a road trip and missed my turn and ended up on a backwoods road in south Georgia, no towns or gas stations in sight, lost and alone.
  • It might be good, like the series of detours that led me to my husband and our current church and both my novels’ plot lines (just not all at the same time).

Or, it might be neither good nor bad, just different from what I expected. That’s most things, I suppose. They’re more frustrating than anything else. I expected my writing to be more advanced by now. I expected—foolishly, I’ll add—that I would find an agent quickly, my novel would be considered fabulous, and a publisher would snatch it up, and the result would be an improbable, instant bestseller. Without any marketing effort on my part, I’ll add.

Naivete can be enthralling. It can also lead to one very frustrated writer. (Me.)

Instead of having a bestselling (or even published) novel, I’m blogging and writing fiction and reading widely and developing marketing skills that I never wanted to have. Often, I don’t see what purpose this serves.

Is this what God wants this part of my life to be: working and waiting?

This morning, I was searching my files for something and came across a sonnet by John Milton that I had copied and stuck in my file cabinet years ago.

In it, Milton is frustrated. He wants to write an epic poem. He has the talent to write that poem. But he doesn’t have the time. He’s spending some of the best years (in his opinion) working for the government, and as a consequence, he is losing his eyesight. How is he going to write Paradise Lost when he’s blind? This isn’t what he expected, planned, or wanted to happen.

He bemoans

And that one talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, lest he returning chide

(The reference is to the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.)

He’s frustrated. His expectations are thwarted. He’s going blind.

The sonnet continues as Patience personified replies

. . . God doth not need

Either man’s work or his own gifts. Who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state

Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,

And post o’er land and ocean without rest;

They also serve who only stand and wait.

In that final line, I find comfort. Waiting is not without merit. There is a purpose, even if I can’t see it yet, or ever.

In Milton’s case, I think those years of waiting, working on other projects, and going blind, all resulted in a magnificent epic poem. Paradise Lost wouldn’t be what it is if Milton hadn’t matured and developed as a poet first.

So—

Even when the eclipse is hidden by clouds,

Even when the detour leaves me lost and alone,

Even when I am frustrated,

there is a purpose, there is a reason, and I continue on.

Journey on, my friends. Journey on.

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6 thoughts on “Eclipses and expectations

  1. I thought of the solar eclipse passage in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court when I heard about the lunar eclipse too. And while I missed the eclipse last night, I saw a stunning moonset over the western mountains on the way to work this morning.

    Like you said, you never know what might happen despite our best laid plans.

    Like

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