On Monday, April 8 members of the Hope family gathered with neighbors, families, former classmates, and friends to experience the eclipse. Sisters and Associates across five states celebrated outdoors, drawing meaning and seeing religious metaphors in the celestial event. Here are some photos from the day:

At our administrative offices in Ossining, the congregation opened the grounds to the public for an eclipse “watch” party. We welcomed well over 200 people including next door neighbors and others who traveled from near and far.

As the moon began its journey across the sun, local faith leaders from the Briarcliff Ossining Ministerial Society Pastor Jeniffer Rodriguez and Sister Ola Nossier offered short prayers and reflections from their respective faith traditions, and Sr. Connie Koch invited everyone to walk the labyrinth.

While the lower Hudson Valley was not in the path of totality, Sr. Mary Schneiders still expressed amazement when the eclipse reached its peak. “I realized that a tiny sliver of sun still gives more light than the full moon.”

Vickie Oppenheimer, a regular at Mariandale’s Saturday Liturgy, emailed after the event reflecting on its meaning:

In our world we seem to have huge issues that divide us, cause debate, contribute to daily angst.  “Our” side, “their” side, who is right, who is wrong.  Isn’t it odd, that in the midst of such major issues, we can stop, quiet our minds, and look heaven-ward while standing shoulder to shoulder with so many people, not caring their political, moral, sexual, religious concerns and platforms, and merely all gaze skyward and smile at each other.

Prioress Catherine McDonnell, OP affirmed the significance of gathering as an interfaith community, “Whatever our religious background or none, in moments such as this we all come together in appreciation for the beauty and mystery of the universe, and for Earth our common home.”

“Thanks for welcoming us,” said Angelina, an Ossining resident who took her her teenage daughter and son.out of school for the afternoon. Since viewing was better than it had been for the 2017 total eclipse, her family wanted to make a “bigger deal” of the event, she said. “We won’t be able to see it again for quite some time.”  The next total eclipse viewable in the area will take place in 2045.

For Milo, age eight, this was his first eclipse. “It was pretty cool,” he said, “I know back in New York they didn’t have as much of a good view as us.” His older sister Zoe, age 15, had seen the eclipse in 2017, but “liked this one better.”

Similarly, siblings Alice and Karen were here to avoid the “chaos” of watching the eclipse in the city. “We thought it would be a little bit more spiritual if we came here,” Alice said. They also appreciated the opportunity to walk a labyrinth, an experience they also enjoy in in Manhattan, in their neighborhood near NYU.

Jessica came to the event at the invitation of a fellow member of the Rock Blossom Sangha. She her bike from her home in Brooklyn to Grand Central Station, took Metro North to Ossining, and biked the Aquaduct Trail to Mariandale. “I’m really grateful to the Sisters for hosting this,” she said. It was her first time visiting Mariandale.

For Middletown resident Raymond Maher, a Carmelite priest, it was a kind of homecoming. “When I was a novice we actually came here once a week,” he said. When he heard about the watch party, he thought “that’s really nice of of them to open up and invite people to come.”

Many others enjoyed the feeling of community. Melissa, a resident of Ossining who had come with her husband Glen and daughter Miranda, had originally planned “to go in our backyard and just sort of look up,” she said. It was “nice to experience it with like-minded people,” she continued, “I just want to thank you for having this event.”

Listen in as attendees of all ages react to the event (02:21):