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Spiritual

Travel: Inside Mount Athos Winter

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Thanks to the Holy Father, Geron Nektarios, Abbot of the Kalyve of Holy Cross in Skete of Saint Anne in Mount Athos, T2C readers got two insights into the spiritual peninsula of Mount Athos.

In Greek mythology, Athos is the name of one of the Gigantes that challenged the Greek gods during the Gigantomachia. Athos threw a massive rock at Poseidon which fell in the Aegean Sea and became Mount Athos.

Homer mentions the mountain Athos in the Iliad.

The peninsula was on the invasion route of Xerxes I, who spent three years excavating the Xerxes Canal across the isthmus to allow the passage of his invasion fleet in 483 BC. After the death of Alexander the Great, the architect Dinocrates (Deinokrates) proposed carving the entire mountain into a statue of Alexander.

The history of the peninsula during latter ages is shrouded by the lack of historical accounts. Archaeologists have not been able to determine the exact location of the cities reported by Strabo. It is believed that they must have been deserted when Athos’ new inhabitants, the monks, started arriving some time before the ninth century.

Geron Nektarios, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, Mount Athos should be coming to New York in October and T2C will definitely be covering that.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Food and Drink

I Took a Trip on a Train …. 

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And not just any train, but one of two cars from the original 20th Century Limited, the World’s Most Famous Train. It was truly a step back in time sitting in the newly and lovingly restored Hickory Creek car, which once transported the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra to Hollywood.   

We departed from the magnificent Moynihan Train Hall after enjoying a mid-morning nosh in the exclusive lounge and then walked a red carpet to our car. (The notion of a red carpet actually originated with the 20th Century Ltd.) There were two cars remaining from the original, and both were cozy and comfortable. Once settled, refreshments were offered, and we began the journey up the Hudson River to Albany. I don’t believe it unfair to say that most of us take the Hudson River for granted—it’s there, separating us from New Jersey. But not long after we left the familiar territory of Manhattan, we began to see the river from a different perspective. Sometimes it’s wide, other times not so much, with small islands popping up. There was enough green on the trees to be a pleasant break from the grey of the city, and congenial fellow passengers for pleasant conversation. Before we knew it, lunch was served, and quite an excellent one too, given that it came from the tiniest kitchen I’ve even seen. A beet salad with pecans, Beef Bourguignon, and finally a lovely slice of cheesecake with raspberry sauce was beyond my expectation. 

Throughout the trip, our jovial host, Lou, dropped in to assure everyone’s comfort and to give us a bit of history on the train. Music from the era was just discernable and added to the time-travelling mood.    

A stop in Albany midway through the journey enabled the train to turn around to take us back and to give us all a chance to stretch our legs and see a bit of the state capital. The sun was descending as we passed the familiar sites of West Point and Tappan Zee Bridge, and before long we were back, refreshed and rejuvenated. Beverages and nibbles were served, just as they surely were when Marilyn and other luminaries traversed the country heading for Hollywood.     

Every effort was made by the staff to make this trip memorable for all of us. The afternoon offerings included lovely canapes with a tulip crafted from a tomato and chives—you must see it to believe it!   

And this experience can be yours, brought about by the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ.!  Check them out at URHS.org and HudsonRiverRail.com to see the many ways you can enjoy this luxurious experience. This was a day trip, but overnight trips to and from Chicago are also available. It was a spa day for the mind and spirit! 

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Entertainment

Registration is Open for Solstice in Times Square 2024

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Solstice in Times Square: Mind Over Madness Yoga returns on Thursday, June 20, 2024 with our 22nd annual event! Experienced yogis and first-timers alike are invited to join us for one of the free yoga classes taking place throughout the day on the Broadway pedestrian plazas, finding calm once again within the chaos of life in New York City.

Go to Broadway and West 46th Street, where experienced yogis and first-timers alike are welcome to join us in-person for one of seven classes throughout the day.

All Solstice classes are free but donations are welcome and appreciated.

Can’t make it in person? Join us virtually by livestreaming any or all of the seven classes. All classes will stream on TSQ.org/Solstice via YouTube and on Facebook. There is no need to register for the event if you are not joining us in person.

Solstice in Times Square is an accessible event for people with disabilities. Please submit your accessibility accommodations by June 13, 2024 when you register for the event.

There will be an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter on site for all classes this year, provided by Inclusive Communication Services. The live stream will also have ASL interpretation all day and real time captions (with the option to turn off the captions).

For further information, please email info@tsq.org.

To register for a class, click here. You can choose your class time from the list of available classes, AFTER you click “CHECKOUT.” Please note, each person must have their own ticket, and each person is allotted ONE class for the whole day. After you have finished the registration process, you should receive a confirmation email from Times Square Alliance (timessquarealliance@buytickets.at) with your ticket. For contactless check-in, please have your ticket ready to scan on your smart device or printed out on the day of the event.

For more info and Frequently Asked Questions about Solstice in Times Square, visit TSQ.org/Solstice.

Share your Solstice photos and experiences using #SolsticeTSq via Twitter and Instagram, @TimesSquareNYC.

Class Schedule

7:30am – 8:30am Class, Instructed by Richa Dhekne, Presented by Consulate General of India, New York

Class Description: Join Richa on an inspiring journey through the sacred limbs of yoga, where asana, pranayama, and meditation beautifully intertwine.

(ASL interpreter present)

Instructor Bio: Richa Dhekne is a 500-hour Yoga instructor and Breath Meditation teacher with over two decades of experience as a volunteer and faculty member with the Art of Living Foundation. As a young college graduate, Richa embraced a transformative opportunity to live at the Art of Living ashram in Bangalore. There, she contributed to Rural Development Programs and the International Association of Human Values, empowering women and youth to achieve self-sufficiency and mental wellness. Richa’s journey brought her to New York, where she currently resides with her husband and teenage son. Professionally, she excels as the VP of Finance and Operations at skincare company Ahava. Balancing her career with her dedication to teaching, Richa continues to inspire and guide individuals through yoga and meditation, nurturing both youth and adults.

9:30am – 10:30am Class, Instructed by Cealia Brannan, Presented by Gaiam

Class Description: As we welcome the summer solstice, balance the heat of a cadenced vinyasa flow with fluid sequences that bring coolness, like water, through balancing and circular sequence transitions.

(ASL interpreter present)

Instructor Bio: Cealia Brannan is a dedicated yogi whose journey with yoga began around 8 years ago when it serendipitously landed in her lap. With a commitment to making yoga enjoyable and approachable for all, Cealia’s focus has been on blending fun, accessibility, and mindfulness into her practice and teaching. Cealia thrives on pushing the boundaries of traditional yoga by crafting imaginative and innovative sequences that keep her students engaged and inspired. Currently, she shares her expertise and passion for yoga with students worldwide through online teaching. Specializing in both Hatha and Vinyasa styles, Cealia brings a unique blend of grace and strength to her classes. Additionally, her expertise extends to mobility work, further enriching the yoga experience for her students.

11:30am – 12:30pm Class, Instructed by Tracye Warfield

Class Description: Vinyasa Flow – “Let’s Flow.” The practice of Vinyasa yoga allows transitions between standing, seated, supine and prone postures, guided by mindful breath. The practice is a moving meditation that creates strength, grounding, balance, expansion, and your own, unique flow in your body and mind. Perfect for all levels.

(ASL interpreter present)

Instructor Bio: “New York is home and a yoga flow is life.” Since 2010 Tracye Warfield has been sharing her experienced yoga practice in Vinyasa, Hatha, breathwork, mindfulness, and meditation internationally as a wellness and life design consultant with her company bytracye. During her travels throughout the globe, she has developed and implemented innovative and impactful programs for various organizations, including Fortune 500 corporations, non-profits, and wellness studios. She is passionate about creating inspired change – mind, body, and spirit – and empowering others to live their most abundant, healthy, and happy lives.

1:30pm – 2:30pm Class, Instructed by Lara Heimann

Class Description: Celebrate the summer solstice in a way that makes you feel fully “LYT” up! This class will be nourishing and challenging to activate the senses and spirit, so you are reminded of your resilience. This is a yoga practice for longevity, weaving creative mobility drills and functional movement into yoga poses that you know and love.

(ASL interpreter present)

Instructor Bio: Lara Heimann, an international yoga pioneer and Physical Therapist, revolutionizes the modern practice of yoga through her LYT Method®. With over 30 years of expertise, Lara integrates neuroscience and habit formation into her method, which is practiced by thousands worldwide in over 50 countries. Her comprehensive movement approach blends physical therapy techniques, yoga, functional movement, stress reduction, strength training, and mobility exercises, offering essential tools for modern lifestyles, taught online, in workshops, retreats, and corporate wellness programs.

3:30pm – 4:30pm Class, Instructed by Susan Hu

Class Description: Join Susan for a feel-good, rhythmic vinyasa flow to move with mindful breath and tap into the joy of the heart. The class will end with the most nourishing yoga nidra for deep rejuvenation and spiritual inspiration.

(ASL interpreter present)

Instructor Bio: A master of mindful breath and rhythmic movement with a focus on the connection to the Self, Susan is an E-RYT® 500, YACEP®, and founder of an RYS® 200 based in NYC. As the senior lead teacher at the Bhakti Center, she offers dynamic yet nourishing yoga classes and trainings including hatha, vinyasa, yin, restorative as well as meditation and yoga nidra. Deeply rooted in her spiritual practice, Susan guides students on an empowering and healing journey, invoking a sense of joy and love in every class.

5:30pm – 6:30pm Class, Instructed by Sri Dharma Mittra

Class Description: This sequence of yoga poses for all level practitioners will move the spine in all directions and leave you feeling recharged and energized.

(ASL interpreter present)

Instructor Bio: Sri Dharma Mittra first encountered yoga as a teenager before meeting his Guru in 1964 and beginning his training in earnest. Sri Dharma founded one of the early independent schools of yoga in New York City in 1975 and has taught hundreds of thousands the world over in the years since. He is the model and creator of the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures, the author of ASANAS: 608 Yoga Poses, Yoga Wisdom and the LOAY Teachers’ Manual, and a number of video series have been created over the last 20 years to help share his method of yoga.

7:300m – 8:30pm Class, Instructed by Douglass Stewart

Class Description: Douglass’ yoga class will be a slow flow, breath-oriented class designed to develop from the modified version of certain poses to their fuller expressions.

(ASL interpreter present)

Instructor Bio: Douglass Stewart has been teaching yoga since 2001. He is the co-founder of Yoga in Times Square, celebrating the Summer Solstice by uniting the community of yoga enthusiasts across the country. Douglass, in collaboration with Times Square Alliance, received Gold Distinction in the Shorty Awards for their Summer Solstice Video during the Covid 19 pandemic. He has received the Community Service Award for volunteering yoga classes at the LBGTQ Community Center. Douglass teaches at the Ishta Yoga Center, including the Teachers Training. He teaches yoga at Om City Yoga and currently leads meditation and the PPOW Gallery.

LOCATION

Broadway & West 46th Street, 10036

 

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Events

The Abbot of Athos and The Consulate Midtown A Tale of How Food Can Bring Peace

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Greece and Macedonia, have had decades of tension, but yesterday at The Consulate Midtown, 44 West 56th Street The Holy Father, Geron Nektarios, Abbot of the Kalyve of Holy Cross in Skete of Saint Anne in Mount Athos and Kiril Mihajlov, showed how great food and conversation can give way to peace.

The Holy Father, Geron Nektarios, Abbot of the Kalyve of Holy Cross in Skete of Saint Anne in Mount Athos, Kiril Mihajlov

I met the Abbott in Greece last summer and he graciously agreed to have lunch with me and some guests I invited, before he returned to Greece.

Margarita Parlionas, Captain John Woodall

Margarita Parlionas is a business owner, who brought with her Captain John Woodall who runs Camp4Heroes, a place where Vets can get some much needed help.

Suzanna Bowling, The Holy Father, Geron Nektarios, Abbot of the Kalyve of Holy Cross in Skete of Saint Anne in Mount Athos, Kiril Mihajlov and George Tower

George Tower, is contributing writer for the, T2C, and speaks fluent Greek.

The Abbot, Margarita and Captain Woodall all supped on the Hangover Burger ($28) 8oz grilled patty, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, topped with a fried egg on a brioche bun, which they all claimed was the best burger they had ever had.

George had the Salmon Eggs Benedict ($26) poached eggs, smoked salmon, toasted brioche, espelette hollandaise sauce and was completely happy.

T2C’s Suzanna Bowling had her favorite Avocado Toast with Bacon ($24) scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon and mixed greens. If you want sensational food with a elegant atmosphere, I highly recommend The Consulate Midtown.

The Abbot gifted a book about his life written in both Greek and English to the guests.

The Abbott has been in America since April visiting Boston, Washington, Chicago, Milwaukee, The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Queens and NYC. His message is of gratitude, love and healing. He has been raising funds to expand and offer more to men who want a spiritual retreat, which is what Mount Athos does.

T2C’s Suzanna Bowling and The Holy Father, Geron Nektarios, Abbot of the Kalyve of Holy Cross in Skete of Saint Anne in Mount Athos

If you wish to know more you can go to Athonite Foundation.

 

 

 

 

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Family

Through Director Matthew Heineman’s Award-nominated doc “American Symphony”  Musician Jon Batiste’s Compositional Achievement and His Wife’s Battle to Overcome Cancer are Examined

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In 2015, when Stephen Colbert launched his version of the Late Show — taking over from David Letterman — one of his first moves was to invite musician Jon Batiste and his group, Stay Human, to provide the nightly musical accompaniment. In 2020, he co-composed the score for the Pixar-animated film “Soul,” for which The New Orleans native received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Grammy and a BAFTA Award (all shared with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross). He has garnered five Grammys from 20 nominations, including an “Album of the Year” win for “We Are” in 2021. With that under his belt, he left the Late Show in 2022, to develop his “American Symphony.”

That orchestral creation became the basis of director Matthew Heineman’s documentary, “American Symphony.” — released September 2023. This doc records the process of Jon Batiste composing his first symphony while his partner, writer Suleika Jaouad, is battling the return of her cancer. Netflix and Higher Ground Productions are distributing.

Heineman’s inspiration and fascination with American history led him to early success with the documentary “Cartel Land,” which was nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar, a BAFTA Award for Best Documentary, and won three Primetime Emmy Awards.

In 2009, the 40-year-old founded Our Time Projects, Inc., his New York–based production company, which would later release “Our Time,” his first documentary, about what it’s like to be young in America. His 2021 film “The First Wave” received the Pare Lorentz Award from the International Documentary Association, was shortlisted for an Oscar, and was nominated for seven Emmy Awards, winning Best Documentary, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing. “Retrograde,” his 2022 film, was nominated for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directing and won an Outstanding Editing Emmy.

This piece is based on the duo’s appearance at a screening in The Museum of Modern Art.

T2c: Jon, the film is an incredible look at the intricacies of the creative process. What is life like living inside your mind? You hear all this noise, you’re singing, improvising, and then, it just needs a little more than that.

Jon Batiste: Hello. I’m always thinking about things that I don’t know that I’m thinking about. My subconscious mind is always going.

T2c: The known and unknowns?

Jon Batiste: It’s happening and I feel something churning when it really gets going and then it diverges. It’s so hard to make some visuals more than not. Something I can’t explain, but the subconscious is working and there’s things that are happening in the present — and then both are working. They come together in moments and that’s typically where the music comes from.

T2c: Matt, what’s it like to have an artist like Jon as the subject, the protagonist of the story?

Matthew Heineman: I think we all owe so much to them for opening themselves up during such an unbelievably vulnerable and sensitive time of their lives. I’ve always tried to approach filmmaking in a very improvisational way. Every film I’ve ever made is something completely different than when I started. And this film is no exception. It was really fun to apply that ethos of filmmaking to one of the greatest improvisers in history. And to dance with him… in both the macro sense of trying to structure this story and in a micro sense, within each day shooting and within each shot.

T2c: There’s so many moments of profound insight in the film from you, Jon and the people around you — through your relationships with them and your creative process. At one point you talk about genuine acceptance and gratitude which requires so much humility and self-awareness. How did this function in your work?

Jon Batiste: The thought of being great is a dangerous idea. When you’re creating music in the most pure sense, you become a vessel of something that you don’t fully understand and couldn’t ever fully grasp. The music is a way to point at it and share it. That’s always going to be greater than you. Now, if you get used to functioning in that stream of consciousness, that creative place that all the ideas come from, you can start to think that it’s you. That’s where self-awareness comes from. Even though I have so many ideas all the time, and I’m always creating. I’ve always managed to make it happen. I can lose that one day, anybody can, because it’s not me. That’s an important part of the work. That’s how it functions in the work. It’s the most crass and direct sensibility of thinking about how it functions is, you ain’t great, bad. You’re just a vessel. If I can stay in that space then the world will be great.

T2c: Matthew, can you talk about how different it was in making this film from making some of your others. Being an artist yourself, right, and witnessing, filmmaking is really a profound act of witness. Jon’s process and Sulaika’s relationship, talk about what it was like to use your craft to show us their journey.

Matthew Heineman: Obviously, if you look at the films I made, this is definitely different yet in many ways it is the same. I approached it with the same fear, I think, that I approach every film. Am I going to fail? How am I going to do this? We have an amazing team, obviously, making this film. But it was an exorbitant film, and we had to really commit to this process. At first, Sulaika didn’t want to be part of the film, apprehensive of being seen as the sick wife in this story. It took a lot of trust building with her and with Jon to make them comfortable with my very immersive style of filming. We were shooting 12, 16, 18 hours a day, seven days a week for seven or eight months. We shot 1500 hours of footage. It was a real commitment.

After about a month or so, we’d all go over to each other and were like, “If we’re going to do this, let’s really truly do this and commit to this. The thing that probably scared me the most was depicting the artistic process, depicting what Jon just described, this sort of magic that he just channels as a vessel as he said. I think that moment after he dedicates the song to Sulaika, we hold on that shot for 92 seconds or however long it was. In most films, it’s a strange choice to hold in silence for so long. It was like Jon literally writes the story for us. With all this weight on his shoulders, his love for Sulaika, how he’s changed life into art, and art into life. It’s all there on his face, his hands, his left and right hand. I just love telling stories without words, telling stories with emotion — and shooting based on emotion.

T2c: When you talk about shooting and capturing emotion in the film, there’s just so many moments. There’s things that you can tell about couples that typify a relationship, where you can see the relationship without having to describe it. These two are just in it. Everybody knows how much you love your wife, which is really good.

Jon Batiste: That’s one of the things I noticed. I was like, “Man, that’s a good choice. Yes indeed!” I’m always joking around in that situation about the reality of not knowing if she was going to make it. All of the things that were going on outside the hospital and in the hospital room, that element of the relationship is like a force field. I didn’t realize what that would look like and how much that’s something that insulates us from the harsh realities of life. It’s really deep, the certain things in your relationship, value systems, humor, and creativity.

They all become these means of survival. That’s really one of the things that we picked up on and one of the things — from the beginning — that really brought us together and helped us weather a lot of things. I noticed that really did come across, as Matt and Lauren, as filmmakers and the production team, are finding a way to notice that in the footage and then carry that narrative thread throughout. That was powerful, because it also ties into the way that the themes of the score and the symphony tie in with the many themes within the film. It was very powerful to see that depicted through this truly masterful work by this team.

T2c: Matt, it takes 14 minutes before the first few notes of what we will eventually discover is the beginning of “American Symphony.” It’s just so great, it’s really subtle. It really has wonderful touches about the actual concert at Carnegie Hall and what that must have been like. Jon is just getting started and then the power goes out. Only people on the stage realize exactly what is going on. Then Jon literally plays the power back into existence. Jon is literally at the piano and conjures electricity. How did you deal with that situation? What were you doing? You’ve got folks with cameras all over recording it all.

Matthew Heineman: I saw that Steadicam and I was like, “That’s not even sending in the camera to get that shot. I definitely was like, “Wow, this is great.” To be honest, it was very confusing. There’s confusion with Jon and confusion about what is happening. The lights are on, but electronics are not on. Oh, all the recording devices are off. It had been a pretty long battle with the folks at Carnegie and various other entities to get a steadicam on stage. For me, it was really important to see that experience through Jon’s eyes, to hear the creak of the bench, to see the sweat on the brow, to see the crowd from his perspective. That’s the man who literally — I can tell you — walked into Carnegie Hall, and was up there to date. Thankfully, I won that battle. And if it wasn’t for that Steadicam, that whole experience wouldn’t have been recorded. The shotgun mic on the Steadicam is the sound source for that moment and it’s a beautiful moment. It’s so indicative of Jon. He takes a second, breathes it in, and he’s like, all right. Well, I’m impressed. It ties the film together in a really beautiful way.

T2c: Jon, what was that like for you? Sulaika is out in public, for the first time in almost a year, right? You have gotten really tough news about this. You enter the space in Carnegie Hall, and in a way, the entire hall shifts with you. You’re in this resplendent suit. It’s reflecting light in all directions. You walk into Carnegie Hall, all eyes are on you. You’re doing your thing. Then, power cuts out. There’s still this fountain of joy coming from you. You’re talking to all these artists about what we want them to bring to the process. How did you make the decision that we’re going to go on?

Jon Batiste: The great Joe Salem, the drummer who I played with since we were in high school, he’s from Pennsylvania, and wears a cowboy hat. Joe has noticed this theme, it’s almost like a tradition from every show that we’ve played for almost 20 years. Something always goes wrong [laughter]. Something always breaks or somebody’s pants split. The bass drum pedal will bust. Something will happen, the mic will shut. There’s a real beauty to that. Furthermore, I think there’s an actual purpose to that. There’s a divine logic, a cadence that’s meant to be a part of my work.

Often, I’ll create things in these moments within the composition. Nobody on the stage will know what will happen in specific moments. It’s designed for us to show up in a moment together. [So, there are blank bars on the page.] It will be even more abstract than blank. It will be creating a scenario. Sometimes that requires me, with this piece that I did, we had to create a notation that’s different to standard notation of music in order to get everybody to know it. Okay, this is the scenario. Now that we’re in the scenario, let’s see. That was one that I didn’t initiate. But the beauty of it is now that piece that has improvised composition. The spontaneous composition of the moment will now be in “American Symphony” from henceforth. When we perform it again, this piece is now so. This is the beauty of these things, that happens. Discovery is always greater than adventure [applause].

T2c: Your performance is seamless and comforting and yet so profound. It’s really obvious that you as the vessel, like you said, developed from clearly a strong faith.

Jon Batiste: The present is all we have. What we see in the present oftentimes doesn’t indicate the full range and majesty of the truth, of being, of who we are. Many times people see a person, but they don’t tell the good about his color. They see somebody and there’s so much in all of us. I have faith in people because there’s such a transformative power that people have within them. Beyond that, the creator of all things, the God of the universe, has created this planet and life force. This moment in the celestial expanse of time, I have this measure that keeps changing and expanding. It’s un-understandable. It’s unfathomable. That in and of itself gives me faith that we can’t grasp what is, and we can’t know what will be.

What’s left? The transformative power that we have within us, the trust and belief in the thing that created this whole existence as we know it… We can measure it to a limited capacity. What we create and make so infectious, is so inevitable, so true and profound, real and moving. It’s drawing us in and speaking to something greater than ourselves. It’s showing us a way to something else that we can’t even articulate. What a beautiful thing to do, share and be in the world. I could go on and on about faith, but I’m just grateful that God put it in me to share a message that will uplift and help people.

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Astrology

A Solar Eclipse Is Coming to New York

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I am not a big stargazer. Living in New York with all the light pollution, there aren’t many stars you can see anyway. You can see more stars walking the NYC streets filming “Law & Order” episodes than you can see in the sky on a clear night. And I am no astronomer; I can barely recognize the Big Dipper and where is Orion’s Belt; but, there is one celestial event that I am a fan of – and that’s a solar eclipse. This amazing event happens far less often than the proverbial blue moon and one is coming this April very near to New York City.

That is not the moon – Its the sun

A total solar eclipse is when the moon in bright daylight passes in front of the sun totally blocking the sun’s light. It is occurring on April 8th of this year and will be partially experienced by us in New York City. I remember hearing about a solar eclipse in 1970 when I was a young boy and New York went wild with excitement. It was passing through our city and classrooms throughout were taking shoe boxes and cereal boxes and punching small holes in them so children could experience the phenomenon safely. Looking up at the sun during the eclipse will result in severe eye damage but now special eclipse glasses are for sale in areas where eclipses traverse the sky.

Photo of Solar Eclipse at Camp Eclipse in Idaho

In 2017 I was able to experience this miracle of our planet in a cow field in Idaho. I do not use the term miracle lightly. A solar eclipse is a humbling experience and witnessing one makes one appreciate the earth we live on and the awesomeness of our universe. Just think about it… we live on a planet that has one moon that is the exact perfect circumference that lies at the absolute perfect distance between the sun and the planet that when it crosses in front of it totally blocks the sun’s circumference. WOW! That’s more geometry than I ever learned in high school and it is mind blowing.

Get your glasses

It is no wonder that ancient civilizations thought the world was coming to an end or that their gods had become angry with them. Imagine being unprepared and seeing the sun disappear in front of your eyes. What is even more amazing is how this unusual event affects the creatures on the planet. When I witnessed the eclipse in this cow pasture, as the moon slowly passed over the sun, the August temperature gradually cooled and as the light began to dim the cows began to moo and bellow. The birds thinking it was turning to night began to fly back to their nests as bees returned to their hives. When the moon fully blocked the sun and we were fully enclosed in darkness there was an eerie quiet that swept over my campsite of over 300 people as we gazed up with our protective glasses and took in the marvel of what was happening. Although full contact (or when the moon fully blocks the sun) may only last a few minutes, the effect lasts a lifetime. The time it took the moon to pass over the sun was over two hours and I just sat gazing at the entire event from start to finish, in which, on a number of occasions, as I pondered the enormity of this wonder tears did well up in my eyes. How lucky we are to be on this planet.

In Chile the eclipse was witnessed in a remote mountain range

Since then I have traveled to a mountain range in Chile to take in the sight. While still amazing the sun was partially hidden by a peak; but still a tremendous experience. I took a cruise to Antarctica to see the eclipse in December 2021 which took place at 3 AM. Despite it being summer down there the sun was hidden by clouds so we didn’t get the full effect but who can complain when included in the voyage there were PENGUINS!!!

Chili eclipse

This April the solar eclipse passes through much of the eastern part of the United States. We in New York will not experience 100% totality of the sun being covered, we will experience 80-85% – parts further west will experience 100% darkness. For us, first contact of the moon with the sun will occur at 2:10 pm and final contact will be 4:36 with full coverage at 3:25 PM. While 100% coverage will be a life changing experience, even the 80% we will witness is worth taking the time out of your day to enjoy. Buy your protective glasses, punch holes in your cereal boxes, take out your spaghetti strainers (they create an amazing effect of multiple eclipses); get yourself to any field clear of trees and buildings and prepare yourself for a sight you will not forget. – Don’t forget – it’s April 8th!!!!

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