When I consider the stars and the universe – or more accurately when I consider my inability to consider them – I experience a strange combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual reactions.
First I feel a kind of mild vertigo, the sort of thing that you would expect to feel if you suddenly found yourself in the middle of a shaky rope bridge over a deep canyon. Our world normally feels so big and solid to me, and my place in this world seems entrenched and well-established after 45 years of living. But suddenly, I am a speck of dust in an instant of time so brief that it can’t be measured. My feet feel light, as if I might float off our spinning planet any second. I want to throw myself on the ground and grab two fistfuls of grass for good measure.
So first vertigo, then panic, then longing. After that I generally calm down a bit. My tiny mind and delicate emotions cannot bear even my small thoughts of the universe for more than a few minutes. I relax. Sometimes a shrinking reality can be a comfort. My sins, the things that I have done wrong and the ways that I cannot be what I should be also shrink. I feel I can forgive myself for them, small man that I am. Why the hell not? Look at the size of the universe!
This forgiveness is the Grace that Christians speak of. The main story of our faith tells us that we must be forgiven and can be. Funny how it takes science to bring that reality to my guts.
As always, inspiring, thoughtful, evocative. This is why he is one of my regular reads.