The Cosmos! And Me. And Us.

The dance of the universe through Hubble’s eye

Three Random Facts about the Universe That You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know:

*The oldest galaxy that we can see is a 13.4 billion-year-old starlight as captured by the Hubble telescope. The Universe, as we know it, is 13.8 billion years old. Back then, no earth, no sun, no Milky Way as yet existed.

I never knew that!


The Crab Nebula – debris from a dead star

*Every star is a sun whose light can take years – or eons – to reach the earth. So some star light takes so long to get here that by the time it reaches earth, it’s already dead! And most stars take millions of years to die…

A butterfly in space?

*One light year is nearly 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).

The nearest star to the sun, Proxima Centauri, is more than 4 light years away. If the Voyager (which travels 56,000 miles/km) were to head there, it would take it 80,000 years to reach it! The Pleiades Cluster? It’s 400 light years away! Whoaaaa!! 

The center of our own galaxy is about 30,000 light years from Earth!

Yeah, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

CAN YOU IMAGINE ALL THAT??? “Mind-boggling” comes to mind. I am an old woman, and still, I am aghast as I see what I’ve just not paid much attention to for so long.

So where does all this enlightenment come from? From Disney+ no less. The place where I was escaping this tense life by watching fairytales! Disney+ includes The National Geographic channel – one of the reasons that I subscribed in the first place.

Tired of fairytales, I began watching “Cosmos” last week on National Geographic. The program, hosted by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, has been an eye-opener for me; a reminder of things I’ve long ago forgotten – or never really knew or assimilated.

Not that I didn’t know that the Cosmos was almost beyond comprehension, but oh, goodness – the numbers started sinking in. The graphics were stunning. The information came faster than I could digest it, so I had to go back more than once for it to begin to sink in. I mean – can you imagine???

What I realized – again – is that our existence is nearly beyond imagining.

And yet, if we can imagine it, it can change our whole perspective on life.

Contemplative prayer and Eastern meditation have both been life-saving graces in these months of pandemic and now, social upheaval.

But nothing has had quite the impact on my sense of my place in this life as the images and the story that showed up on my big screen each night as I tried to assimilate all of this! It’s not just stars and galaxies and nebulas. It’s microbes and earth’s history and dinosaurs and insects and human emergence in the story of existence.

Everything has its place in the order of things.

Everything has had – and continues to have – its own purpose in the unimaginable wonder that is creation!

Oh, I can begin to feel so small – so minute – so sub-microscopic a being! And yet, I can also imagine my life to be of ultimate importance in the Universe! All of our lives – of ultimate importance.

None of us has been a mistake. Each of us is meant to be here. 

I feel it in my bones:  no matter what is happening around us – or hundreds of miles away – or billions of years away – nothing can take away our sacred worth. Here and now.

No matter how we view Life – or the Universe – we keep being reminded that even our wee microscopic presence in the unfolding of all existence is intended by The One who got this all started and who still cares about how it continues to unfold. And who decided that we were necessary!

We are not alone.

We are deeply loved.

We belong to each other. 

This is our time.

We will get through all of “this.”

Just go outside on a clear night. Have a chair along, maybe, so you can drink in the sky. Or take a blanket. Or lie in the cool evening grass. You may feel so, so small. But you just may sense your worth if you let go of thinking about it and simply let your spirit “be” there amid the wonder of the unimaginable magnitude of the heavens.

You may just “know” that you are – amazingly – enormously visible and loved by The Spirit who lives in and through you.

May it be so, my friends of the unimaginable cosmos that is our home. Maybe I’ll see you under the twinkling, starry sky!! Oh, look! A shooting star!!!

The Andromeda galaxy: one of hundreds of billions!