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(RNS) — We feel our smallness when we consider the universe, unutterably vast, dark and scattered.
Whole swaths of space are empty, while elsewhere galaxies drift through the void for eons of time before colliding with each other. Some stars go nova and incinerate the planets orbiting them, expending themselves in an explosion so powerful that our naked eyes can see it millions of light-years away. Cosmic dust coalesces and new stars are born, while black holes swallow light itself.
Orb - Sun - Neighbourhood - Edge - Milky
Here on our tiny terrestrial orb, circling a minor sun in a low-rent neighbourhood on the edge of the Milky Way, our telescopes watch as the cosmos accelerates away from us, growing ever colder and more distant. We are but a speck.
I imagine that for you, too, this last week has been an especially dark one, rightsizing us once again in the face of such tragedy. The massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight. And I don’t know if this is happening in your life, too, but so many people I care about are struggling with things they don’t deserve.
Flash - Tragedy - Shines - Rent - Fabric
It has been awful. And, in a flash, their tragedy shines on a rent in the fabric of space and time that separates us from each other. In our pain, we are all the same. And it is necessary and obvious to say that anything that could happen to them could happen to any of us.
We find that we must confront our fragility, and signs of our mortality are everywhere. As John Donne writes:
Death - Man - Door - Death - Man
Death is in an old man’s door, he appears and tells him so, and death is at a young man’s back, and says nothing; age is a sickness, and youth is an ambush; and we need so many physicians as may make up a watch,...
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