Tuesday, May 4, 2010

God in Everyday Life

I often ask myself  "How do people find God in everyday life? Isn't it hard to keep that up all the time?"

So, I took some time to sit down and think about what makes me believe, even a tiny bit, that there is something greater out there.

I have often believed that people do not pay attention enough. We are always too wrapped up in our own thoughts and lives to notice the things around us. You know the saying, stop and smell the roses. But do people stroll leisurely through life like it's one giant garden? I wish I could do that. That's what makes me think that finding God in the beauty and simplicity of life is so hard. Maybe that's why it's so fulfilling, once you are able to do it.

I digress.

What makes me believe are sublime images. Those photographs or paintings that evoke so strong an emotion that you can't help but cry out in terror, fascination, or happiness. The feeling that there, in that picture, contains everything you have ever felt or wanted to feel and it dwarfs you. That feeling of being dwarfed - a tiny grain of humanity at the deepest depths of the ocean, surrounded by an entire seven oceans of bigger, awe-inspiring things. Things that we cannot label or comprehend. Occasionally I come across an image or song that is so perfect and beautiful and in line with the universe that I can't help but sit with my mouth gaping with amazement.

So, I give you one of the first images to ever make me feel this way - with it's accompanying text of course, which basically encompasses everything I said above. It always manages to move me, and it always manages to remind me why I'm here, studying and being too hard on myself and pushing myself to learn more. It's called  Pale Blue Dot.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

-- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

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