I wrote the other day about Professor Brian Cox’s reflections upon snowflakes and the fact that each has taken a different journey. I also posted a while ago about Mary Oliver’s The Other Kingdoms. It’s a poem that yields new and ever deeper fruits with every reading – and I’m struck today by the thought that Brian Cox would doubtless appreciate her lines
… the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
from The Other Kingdoms
The Truro Bear and Other Adventures
Mary Oliver and Brian Cox alike invite us to contemplate. What’s the hidden story (even where and if unplanned or not deliberately intended) behind different elements of creation, whether poetic or physical? Could either have anticipated that their works would lead me to contemplate an hour’s people watching on London’s Euston Station? Observing people greeting one another it’s plain that there are dozens of words to describe different arrivals. Diversity in unity. Poetic creativity. Life.
BBC Professor Brian Cox’s Forces of Nature last night was another stunner! Explaining how earth’s beauty is created by just a handful of forces, he gave a detailed account of the formation and startlingly beautiful symmetry of all snowflakes. Whilst sharing the same basic shape and form, each is marvellously and particularly different. No two snowflakes are identical. Why? – because of the journey each has taken to its resting place on earth. Movement, the pull of gravity, patterns of humidity – the way is unique for every one. Snowflakes, that is. But also human persons. No two are identical. Because we all experience a different journey; myriad experiences along the way. It’s the roads travelled, as well as the basic physics, that makes us alive – who and what we are. Forces of nature creating forces of nature. Yes: I am continually awestruck – and because I am a human person, capable of thought and of reflection, I shall take the more care to respect the long life highroads that others are treading – some of them quite, quite beyond my experience or aspiration.
I’ve been watching BBC2’s Stargazing Live and am literally awestruck. My boyhood imagination was profoundly touched by the early Apollo Missions, and although not one of the patient sorts that willingly stay up all night with a flask and a telescope, the enormity, excitement and energy of physics and space exploration has me spellbound.
Presenters Dara Ó Briain and Professor Brian Cox, astronaut Tim Peake – currently one of the team aboard the International Space Station, and almost everyone associated with the tv programme, with the Jodrell Bank observatory, and with the space mission, have a distinctive aura about and around them that I can only think to describe as an infectious joy. They’re all smiling, buzzing, and one has the impression that they’re simply bursting to share the news of all they’re learning.
How can I be surprised by such a joy? Humankind is moving at a rate of knots from one glorious discovery to another. Stunning new digital photography of Pluto is immeasurably better than that available only twelve months ago. Tim Peake is able to chatter to home-base as though leaning over a garden fence. Our sense of the sheer enormity of the Universe rolls along in tandem with our growing knowledge of the infinite power contained in single atoms.
Paying attention to Uni-verse. One-world-ness. Re-discovering. Re-membering. Re-uniting separated entities. Pushing boundaries. Overcoming obstacles, contemplation, meditation, patience, prayer, awe and wonder. Communion.
Mindfulness is a lifetime’s journey along a path that
ultimately leads nowhere, only to who you are