It used to give me anxiety, now I think it gives me ... hope.
By "it", I just mean that little thing called . . . the cosmos.
Cosmos Anxiety Disorder
The first time I saw images from the Hubble Telescope, it honestly freaked me out. I mean, I’m good with how big our own solar system is. Like, I think I maybe would have been a good medieval person, just the dome is plenty for me. But our universe, like it or not, is unfathomably vast and my psyche (much less, my ego) just didn’t like seeing images of it very much.
But then something changed.
I’ve been with my beloved for six years now and my beloved is a life-long space nerd; I mean . . . the screen saver on his computer is Astronomy Picture of the Day. So for years, I’ve been seeing magnificent photos of stars and galaxies and nebulas - the beauty of which have transformed my “cosmos anxiety disorder” into something closer to awe. This is the nature of love, by the way - it tends to transfer and transform. My love for him opened me to his love for astronomy, and his love for astronomy has transformed something in me…apparent even in last week’s sermon!
Gaseous oxygen - that magic thing that allows for life here on Earth and yet is so rare in the universe… I wonder if in that moment of creation, when God breathed into dust and gave humans a living soul, if it was oxygen is, itself…could it be that oxygen is the breath of God that we still take into our very lungs. It has been with us and sustained us since creation. Fear and Breath July 3rd, 2022
Today the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope were shared with the world and man, I am so glad I saw them now and not years ago (when I’m not sure I would have survived it).
They are unspeakably beautiful and the feeling I have when looking at them seems so similar to the feeling I have when looking at the open ocean, or a magnificent mountain valley. I think it is called “awe”.
Here are a few answers to the above question.
My concern with shaping my eyebrows.
The "better than you" mentality.
Having a nice lawn.
If I disappoint my family.
Obsession with which bathroom everyone is using.
Obsessing over achieving the “perfect” body shape.
and my personal favorite:
Using the word "awesome" to describe human-made things, acts.
How I Plan To Use All The New Photos We Will Be Getting from JWST
When my ego wants once again to seek attention or take umbrage at slights or know itself only in comparison to others, I think I may try and undertake the practice of pulling up the latest images from the Webb telescope. Feel free to join me in this. Perhaps then I will remember that most of the shit I get wound up about just doesn’t matter. The cosmos is unbelievably big and yet here we are breathing our delicious gaseous oxygen and moving these glorious bodies and getting to have perfect dogs and eat pretty good pizza and love each other and also, by the way - the trees in my neighborhood are totally showing off right now and cherries are in season. I mean, why in the world would I spend any time whatsoever getting angry in traffic or holding onto some bullshit grudge about something the other person has for sure forgotten about years ago.
So, now that we’ve realized that nationalism and obsessing over cellulite makes no sense whatsoever…what does?
1. human dignity
2. human flourishing
3. the wellbeing of the planet all earthlings share
(so much more as well…)
Which brings me to a new book I want to share:
When Time Is Short; Finding Our Way In The Anthropocene by Timothy Beal
This is an extraordinary book that suggests that IF it IS too late for our long-term survival (and hopefully that is not the case, but if it is…) then how do we live? Beal reminds us (much better than I am in this essay) in his “palliative care for humanity” approach, that what matters most when time becomes short is always what matters most. I will be having a conversation with him on my InstaLive tomorrow at noon Eastern (the video will be posted on my Instagram Author Chats afterword).
So, my fellow Earthlings, I ask you, given this magnificence, beauty and wonder of these photos of our cosmos - what clearly just doesn’t make sense anymore and what still matters most?
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