by I. Lehr Brisbin
“Then the sun was darkened and the veil of the temple was torn in two.”
Luke 23:45 KJV
Photo by Mark Vukovich
The above passage might well describe an event similar to the United States’ most noted natural phenomenon of the past year. The alignments of the sun, earth and moon caused a path of total solar eclipse to move diagonally across the country on August 21, 2017. The path of totality of that eclipse moved almost exactly across the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Fellowship Camp and Conference Center of the Trinity Presbytery in Laurens County, South Carolina. This occurred only a few weeks after this presbytery had voted to establish this site as the independent Camping Ministry of the Carolinas (CMC). The purpose was to establish a church-based program there of environmental research and education to provide for a better understanding of, and concern for, God’s creation here on earth.
As one of its first undertakings, this ministry hosted a gathering of prominent scientists as well as the lay public from across the state and around the world, to view the totality of this eclipse at this site and hear a lecture by Dr. Morris Aizenmann, a retired former director of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s program in astronomy.
However a study describing the motivations of other individuals, including Thomas Edison, who traveled west in July, 1828 to observe a solar eclipse in Wyoming and Colorado, revealed that of equal importance to what many of them actually saw and learned was who they saw the eclipse with! That surely was the case with the disciples and women who watched Christ’s crucifixion from the darkened crown of Golgotha, as described by Luke. May we too come to see how that event not only transformed the rest of their lives, but our own as well.
Prayer: May the natural phenomena which draw our attention with awe to the grandeur of your creation here on earth also cause us to realize and appreciate the importance of our being with others with whom we may share that awe. May the relationships which are thus created bring us closer to an appreciation of your magnificent presence in all our lives whether that be manifested through the crucifixion of your son or the continuing movements and alignments of the celestial bodies with which you surround our earth.
I. Lehr Brisbin, Ph.D. majored in biology with a minor emphasis in Old Testament theology as an undergraduate at Connecticut Wesleyan University. He then obtained graduate masters and doctoral degrees in “Zoology (Ecology)” from the University of Georgia in 1967. He then moved to the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in Aiken, South Carolina, a position from which he retired in 2002 to become a Senior Research Scientist Emeritus. Dr. Brisbin is a Ruling Elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Aiken, South Carolina, and since 1996 he has served the Trinity Presbytery of the PC(USA) in a position which was first entitled, and still functions as, the presbytery’s Restoration Creation Enabler. In this position he also sits as an Ex-Officio member of the Board of Directors of the newly-formed Camping Ministry of the Carolinas. The above meditation represents the latest step in a process initiated by Dr. Brisbin during his undergraduate studies. This process was formally defined in 1979 by the publication in the Georgia Journal of Science of Dr. Brisbin’s manuscript: “The Principles of Ecology as a Frame of Reference for Ethical Challenges: Towards the Development of an Ecological Theology."*
*Dr. Brisbin’s paper is available upon request: firstname.lastname@example.org