Posts Tagged ‘stars’

Colliding galaxies (photo from Hubble telescope)

Breathtaking! A few years ago my first thought would have been that this is the fingerprint of God. Maybe it is; maybe it’s not. I’m not able to answer that anymore. My first impression on seeing this image today is that we are looking into a mirror at a reflection of ourselves.

I’m in complete awe of the beauty and grandeur of the universe. It is inadequate and inconceivable to even say that it is big. I highly recommend you read this article just to get some perspective on our place in it: Window of Possibility: Why the Hubble Ultra Deep Field is the most incredible photograph ever taken.

When we see images like this, we cannot even begin to appreciate the significance of them. This image captures the birth pangs of our mother. This is where we all came from. We are the children of stardust, whirling and colliding in massive and spectacular beauty. All life as we know it has this common ancestry.

My 3 year old son was looking at family pictures yesterday. Some of them were taken before he was born with only his mommy, daddy, and older brother. He got very sad and asked where he was and why he wasn’t in the picture. It was a temporary dilemma of sorts for him to imagine that there was a time when he was not, just as it is sometimes difficult for us to imagine a time when we will not be any longer.

Perspective is what is lacking in our culture today… macro perspective. We have none beyond our own narrow selfish interests. Life is rare, precious, and beautiful. Every day, every moment, and every person in ours should be cherished and celebrated. The world and all those in it are not ours to exploit or to ruin. They are ours to love.

I’ve been enthralled by Brian Swimme’s book The Universe is a Green Dragon. I trust that you already know that we are children of the stars, literally. The planets, comets, moons, and even life on earth are all products of star dust. For that reason Swimme describes the universe observing itself through us:

We are the self-reflexion of the universe. We allow the universe to know and feel itself. So the universe is aware of itself through self-reflexive mind, which unfurls in the human. We were brought forth so that these experiences of beauty could enter awareness. The primeval fireball existed for twenty billion years without self-awareness. The creative work of the supernovas existed for billions of years without self-reflexive awareness. That star could not, by itself, become aware of its own beauty or sacrifice. But the star can, through us, reflect back on itself. In a sense, you are the star.

This got me to thinking. Often we live our lives trying to discover where it is we came from and wondering where it is we are going, not knowing either for certain. What happens to the world around us once we’re gone? Did our lives really count for something? Make an impact on others? All of those billions of stars had no idea of their own significance until we came along, formed from the leftover dust of their death. Just because we don’t know what will happen in the future doesn’t mean we won’t make a difference. One day we will become dust again, and in time we will return to our source, another star in another time that will one day too explode into a world of new possibilities. It really isn’t such a small world after all, is it?