So many things which once had distressed
or revolted him — the speeches and
pronouncements of the learned, their
assertions and their prohibitions, their
refusal to allow the universe to move —
all seemed to him now merely ridiculous,
non-existent, compared with the majestic
reality, the flood of energy, which now
revealed itself to him: omnipresent,
unalterable in its truth, relentless in
its development, untouchable in its
serenity, maternal and unfailing in its
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Hymn of the Universe
There’ll be a hard frost again tonight. The air is sharp, the mind possessed of clarity and recall unusual for this time of day: depths above, around, beneath and within. Silence. Serenity. Resting place. Soul space.
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
“My agent says I’m a PR dream: a Muslim who celebrates Christmas”.
Nadiya Hussain, Great British Bake-Off winner, enjoys a big family celebration for her birthday on the 25th December, writes Tony Turnbull in the Times today, but will also find time for a personal Christmas tradition:
“Every year, I always make things like biscotti, florentines or shortbread as gifts. I’ve got a rule that if I can see your front door from my house, you’ll be getting a little bag of chocolate biscuits, biscotti or shortbread, wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon. It’s not so much about celebrating Christmas as being mindful that some people don’t have family and friends, perhaps, and want nothing more than a friendly chat.”
Jesus of Nazareth and other big hearted, big minded teachers in every nation and age have shown that it’s little “rules” like Nadiya’s that are the building blocks of the uni-verse, the one-world.
“If I can see your front door” … or any neighbour’s, or a whole street of homes, or a town, village, country, continent, globe – or international space station and beyond: if I can see you – there’ll always and everywhere be something to celebrate. Connection, giftedness, humanity, relatedness – “tied with ribbon”.
In the body there is a little shrine
In that shrine there is a lotus
In that lotus there is a little space
What is it that lives in that little space?
The whole universe is in that little space
because the creator
the source of it all
is in the heart of each one of us
Parable from the Upanishads
What lives? Little, little, little, little – four repeats in one short parable, creator, source, shrine and universe within the whole. Lotus space my heart
Be still, consider
Nicaraguan liberation theologian Ernesto Cardenal renders the opening verses of Psalm 19 thus:
The galaxies sing the glory of God
and Arcturus 20 times larger than the sun
and Antares 487 times more brilliant than the sun
Dorado Sigma with a brightness of 300,000 suns
and Orion Alpha which is equal
to 27,000,000 suns
Aldebaran with its diameter of 32 million miles
Lyra Alpha 300,000 light years away
and the nebula of Boyer
200 million light years away
all announce the work of your hands …
Psalms of Struggle and Liberation
Burns and Oates
And here in my little space I observe that, far from being discomfited by universal enormity, I rest in the strength of the Creator of such a context, and in the gentleness of the same One to Whom both psalmist and translator address the prayer at the Psalm’s conclusion: “may the words of my poems be pleasing to you / Lord my Liberator”.