Thursday, 6 December 2007

Here and now

‘I look up at your heavens, shaped by your fingers,
at the moon and the stars you set firm –
what are human beings that you spare a thought for them,
or the child of Adam that you care for him?’
(Psalms 8:3-4)

There is nothing that brings home our apparent insignificance, and leaves us with no adequate means of self expression quite so profoundly as searching a starlit sky. Orion’s winter presence has drawn me out once more.
Some three months ago I spent time watching for shooting stars on a night when we were all told there was the possibility of witnessing a spectacular shower. The night was wonderfully clear, and midnight found me well wrapped, and stretched horizontal across garden chairs to make looking heavenward more comfortable, more relaxed and therefore more conducive to quiet contemplation. I remained there, thinking deep into what lay spread before me, and searching those depths for longer than I have for some years, and though it was worth looking for and seeing the shooting stars, those short-lived trails were simply a sporadic and superficial dusting across the incomprehensibility of the silence and the depth of the abyss behind them.

I remember seeing shooting stars as a child. I do not recall having consciously spent time looking for them, or gazing at the stars in general, though I must have done so. See them I did, and frequently enough for me to become accustomed to their occurrence; they were always good to see, and worthy of a momentary excitement, but were not rare or unusual enough to give that excitement any real intensity or power.
That all seems so long ago, not so much in terms of the intervening years, but in the sense of it being one more thing of which I have been reminded; another memory lodged in such a way that, though the image is retained as of a recent occurrence, the reality is far more distant than I would otherwise have realized.
While staring into the cold and star-filled heavens, time had become almost meaningless, just as distance was being shown to be equally beyond all meaning and understanding.
Everywhere was there, right where I lay, and all time seemed held in those few moments.
I had been made aware, yet again, that I had been looking without seeing, and that seeing brings an appreciation of our utter insignificance and of the futility of almost all that we assess as wisdom and knowledge. Infinity goes beyond not only all that we can see, but beyond all comprehension of that which is see-able.

In looking at Hubble telescope pictures it is so easy to lose oneself in the seemingly infinite expanses of space and time. And in that brief release from the usual restraints of the mind, all those words that usually swirl past with a superficial and pointless whisper, - words such as eternity, peace, love, holiness, uprightness, repentance, forgiveness, unity and hope, - suddenly hint more clearly at something as they pass.
Attempts to grasp the thoughts fail: they are gone, but something is stirred within us. Hope is now a word with potential meaning, a disturbing possibility that draws the previously unattended concept of trust into our sphere of experience.
In the short-lived awareness of our nothingness, we may sense the presence of a lifeline of which we are already a part.
What are we? Who are we?
What is our life? Our awareness? Our sorrow? Our joy?
What is it for which we endlessly long?

Who am I that You, my God, spare a thought for me?

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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