Ashlie Miller: Outside the path of totality

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 27, 2024

By Ashlie Miller

A few weeks ago, many sky-watchers cleared either a couple of hours in their day or made a day trip to a nearby state in the path of totality, ready to see the elusive and exclusive solar eclipse. Having experienced the one in 2017 with my family on a day trip to South Carolina, we did not make plans this year — no trips, no special glasses.

However, we pulled out the kitchen colander and looked at the shadows cast by the trees to see the crescent shapes that were unique to this event. There was still that unmatched eeriness in color, light, momentary stillness and quiet in nature. Neighbors came out on their lawns simultaneously, one couple sharing the cereal box to see the pinhole shadow and a young mother and daughter sharing other observations — a brief moment of standing in awe together. Rather than feeling we missed out for not being in the path of totality, this still provided a sweet moment I will not soon forget.

Can I keep the same joy and excitement over other things in my life that are only in the 85% completion category? Sometimes, as a mother eager to launch children into the world one day, I can quickly get frustrated when they are not where I want to be in various aspects of their maturity. I want them to be where I am now, or at least where I think I am. That, however, is not always an accurate self-evaluation. I’m afraid I can have an overestimated opinion of myself, like many post-modern humans.

Thankfully, the voice of reason, often outside the home, will speak words of encouraging observations of how well my children are getting along — reflecting respectful manners to others, their engagement in lessons and sharing thoughtful responses, helpful attitudes of serving others, healthy work ethics, or sharing talents that bring joy to others.

As I grow and hopefully mature in character and spirit, I easily get frustrated over where I lack — slipping into cynicism or an analytical attitude, trusting others (sometimes even God) to fulfill their word, my impatience, lack of efficiency in a given day. Yet, as I look back, I see I have grown in those areas and others. A card arrives in my mailbox with words of gratitude for my spirit. Another mom at co-op remarks on my “chill, laidback attitude.” My husband gently reminds me that the work I did on a given day was more important than what I planned to do. I sometimes stand agape when I read or hear words like that. They are celebrating my growth while still being incomplete.

I bet there are areas in your life as well that are worth celebrating — little steps toward significant growth. You likely see it in the lives of others as well. No, they aren’t perfect, but there are changes from who they were. Don’t wait for perfection; you will miss out on beautiful celebrations!

For Christians, those changes and transformations foreshadow what one day will come in eternity. God promises that we will one day be like Jesus. I can’t even begin to imagine that, but what a celebration that will be!

Ashlie Miller and her husband Chad raise their five children in Concord. You can contact her at

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