The Chemistry of the Universe

I enjoy looking at images from NASA every morning.  Sometimes I watch the clouds, land and water passing across my screen in a live streaming video of earth from the International Space Station.  I am on the Station in real time as the Station soars across continents and oceans.  I love looking down at the earth when I am traveling by plane, and this is far, far more breath-taking.

At other times I look at the images captured by the James Webb telescope or the Hubble.  I still find it hard to believe that there are so many galaxies out there – not just single stars but swirls of millions of stars, each its own Milky Way to the strange planets from which it can be observed.  How many intelligent eyes are observing the universe this morning, each from a distant world?

At still other times I go to Mars.  I listen to the sounds and view the images coming back to us from the Perseverance and Curiosity Rovers.  I have heard the wind blowing on a different planet!  I have looked around an unearthly landscape, which, while very similar to our own, is at the same time terribly alien.  It’s very cold there.  And no green things ever grow.

The chemistry of the Universe is God’s.  The gasses that swirl together to form dense balls of heat and light, the bits that break off and cool into planets and moons, the whole incredible, unfathomable universe is a symptom of God’s nature.  Psalm 8 speaks to me so clearly whenever I contemplate this: Who is humanity that God is mindful of us?

Today we celebrate the Incarnation.  God has completely humbled Themselves, coming into our world as a helpless infant, terribly limited in what their brain can understand or their eyes see.  This is somehow part of the nature of the same God who creates galaxies.

Through the Incarnation we know that God dwells in each of us, becoming human, as we dwell in God, becoming divine.  In this time of divisiveness and anxiety, we face a daunting task.  How do we come into the consciousness of that cosmic star-maker that resides in our souls?  How do we find it and converse with it, and how do we help others find it in themselves?

Each of us has a different path – a different route to holy evangelism.  For me it is in listening deeply to the hearts of those who share themselves with me, pointing to what I see of the divine essence in them, and asking about those places where I think God is speaking.  It is also in writing icons to be windows to the Holy and in writing stories and reflections to point a way, however feeble, to God’s presence.

The chemistry of the Universe is God’s own chemistry, and the burning essence is love.  I can’t rightly tell you how I know this, but doesn’t it just make sense?  The attractions that bring about the birth of stars, that bring about satellite planets and moons, that create the swirling spirals of galaxies – are these not love?  We yearn for relationship, long to be in orbit around one another – is this not love?

As we find our God in the manger today let us allow ourselves a true and profound awe.  We dwell in a living Universe, a place of profound miracle and mystery.  Let us open our hearts once again to this salvational understanding.  Let us discern how we help others to find it.

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