Another poem from Biola – this time The Dimensions of the Milky Way by Marilyn Nelson (written about Harlow Shapley – the man who correctly estimated the size of the Milky Way and our relative position within).
Behind the men’s dorm
at dusk on a late May evening,
Carver lowers the paper
and watches the light change.
He tries to see earth
across a distance
of twenty-five thousand light-years,
from the center of the Milky Way:
a grain of pollen, a spore
of galactic dust.
He looks around:
that shagbark, those swallows,
the fireflies, that blasted mosquito:
this beautiful world.
A hundred billion stars
in a roughly spherical flattened disc
with a radius of one hundred light-years.
He catches a falling star.
Well, Lord, this infinitesimal speck
could fill the universe with praise.
I read this while taking a bit of a break during a hike on Friday and I so loved the sense of the last line – the infinitesimal speak filling the universe with praise. As I was letting it sink in, I looked to my right to see little dashes of light moving amongst the branches of the trees nearby. It Took me a bit to figure out what I was looking at – they were glints of light from the early morning sun reflecting off spider web strands that were moving in the ever-so-slight breeze. It was so beautiful.
But it was only for that place at that moment. I tried to capture it and did so rather imperfectly – it was just about impossible to get a good focus on the moving strands of spider web.
But those glints of light off those impossibly strong and thin strands were infinitesimal specks that filled that moment of mine in the universe with praise. Praise for the beauty of the morning. Praise for the beauty of the place. Praise for the spiders who made those strands. Praise for the moment that would have been gone a short while later as the sun rose higher. Praise for the Creator behind it all. The creator behind a universe that is impossibly big but so incredibly intimate and personal.