Faithful to Science

blog on science and religion

Red Shift

Red shift

Held by an image of our outer space:
Spots, dots, and whirls of white and red,
Time-tunneling in silent grace,
Parsecs where only thought can tread.

Blue blazes of the younger fire,
Red smudges of the ancient mist,
Vast mergers of the flowing gyre
Down ages of the world persist.

These distant forms of space and truth
Work back upon the thoughts we frame;
Prayer puzzles through a shaping sieve:
Dead words or else a larger name.

Still, quietly ask the teeming sky:
Draws over there that which can love?
Lights there a dance which can rejoice?
Rests there a hold of things above?

Having been forthright for a few weeks, I thought I would post something a bit gentler this week. The above poem is an attempt by me to put into words one of the difficulties or tensions that I live with. This difficulty is that so much of religious language does not feel convincing in view of the sheer scale of the universe.

It is hard to put into words quite how vast the universe truly is. The number of stars just in our local galaxy, and the distances, energies, masses and times involved, already boggle the mind, even before one has begun to contemplate all the other galaxies.  And then the scales and numbers are larger still. In view of all this, one has to be cautious, I think, in how we speak about the One I have referred to as our truest Parent. I think it can be done: it remains possible to speak of love as the ultimate principle that has shaped the cosmos by simply being that which makes sense. And then one can go further and accept that love is not merely an abstract principle, but a quality of a relationship between persons.  But the One at the other side of this relationship is often more eloquently announced in silence than in speech — in certain kinds of silence, that is, such as the stillness that holds back from revenge, and the space that allows another to grow, and the thoughtful silence that accompanies a solid piece of work.


© I hold the copyright to the above poem which is an original work by me. I am making it freely available by posting it here; it may be used and copied with my name (Andrew Steane) included as author. Where appropriate, a link here would be appreciated.

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