Saturday, April 4, 2015

We are Stardust


Very early in the morning , well before the sun rose, I walked out into my yard in order to view what was billed as a "rare glimpse of the lunar eclipse." I am not exactly sure what I expected to see but I certainly didn't expect that the full moon would have turned red as it glowed amidst the brilliant stars in the clear desert skies. NASA scientists explain that in a lunar eclipse the moon enters into the core shadow of the earth,  and as it does this every sunset in the entire world is reflected on the surface of the moon at that one magnificent moment of an eclipse. The moon turns red because it reflects all the sunsets of the entire planet earth. 

So there I stood this morning. I was just one tiny speck in the great scope of things, standing in a little patch of desert sand in the predawn hours of this day; and there before me the moon glowed red in the cosmos,  a mirror of the sun that was setting at that moment in every single land of every single nation of every single people throughout the entire globe--and it was happening right before my very eyes.  It was so awesome, so spectacularly transcendent, an experience of "God" if there ever was one. 

When I came back into my house later this morning I browsed through today's New York Times, and to my great delight I found an article titled, Our Cosmic Selves. The article helped to open my eyes and my mind and to expand my soul - it reminded me once again that we human beings really are made of stardust and each and every one of us intimately connected and woven into a vast cosmic web far beyond the realm of our human imaginations.

The iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones and the oxygen we breathe
are the physical remains, the ashes, the dust 
of stars that lived and died long ago.

Since most of us spend our lives confined 
to a narrow strip near Earth's surface
we tend to think of the cosmos as a lofty, unaccessible realm
far beyond reach and relevance.
We forget that only a thin sliver of atmosphere 
separates us from the entire universe.

So many of us live our lives with blinders on. We focus on our tiny little egos, our tiny little lives lived in a tiny little patch of earth, our small ambitions and myopic desires, our extremely limited ideas;  but we all are part of something so much bigger, so much more cosmic.  We are separated from one another by a thin sliver of skin - we are separated from the cosmos by a thin sliver of atmosphere.

The renowned Sufi poet, Rumi, once wrote:

The whole universe exists inside you.
God writes spiritual mysteries on our heart,
where they wait silently for discovery

While reading that New York Times article this morning I discovered something about the water I take for granted every day, water I drink from my tap, water flowing from my shower and lapping in my pool:  "Up to half the water on the planet is older than the solar system itself. Ancient water molecules assembled in the chill confines of a gigantic gas cloud that spawned our sun and the planets that orbit it,  and somehow those ancient molecules ended up in our oceans and even in our bodies."

In the early predawn hours this morning I gazed upon a moon that reflected all the sunsets of every land on this globe and I sipped a glass of water that was older than the solar system itself- such a powerful mystery, such an expansive and transcendent thought for this season of Passover and Easter when we celebrate freedom from the bonds of slavery and bursting out of a tomb that could not keep death in its grip. 

Listen to my podcast: "Desert Wisdom"

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