Have you ever been caught off-guard by something that just floored you, made your arm hairs stand on end, made you cry, made you wonder why you exist, and made you wonder at the miracle of your existence all at the same time? I had one of those moments yesterday.
Earlier this month, NASA released the largest photo ever taken. It contains 1.5 billion pixels and is an image of the Andromeda Galaxy–which is itself 2.5 million lightyears from Earth and is probably the largest galaxy in the same group as our Milky Way. Since this photo doesn’t do it any justice, here’s a closeup, below.
I beg you to turn off everything around you and just let this sink in however it hits you. Keep the sound on.
One of the reasons why I love the Rocky Mountains is their ability to dwarf me. I am in awe of their magnitude and the predictability of the mountains’ existence, but the unpredictability of their effects. Snow storms, fire, slippery shale. I’m surprised that in viewing this Andromeda Galaxy photo, of which I can’t even comprehend its size, I feel entirely the opposite. Rather than feeling small and inconsequential myself, I actually feel…special. Out of this entire universe, and all the galaxies, and all the matter and planets, I am here. You are here. It’s no accident.
So why are we here? Oh, wouldn’t we like to know. But one thing that caused my tears was in thinking that my husband might spend another 30 years sitting at a desk that he hates, or that I might give up another week or month or season with a depressed veil over me rather than moving toward something that matters. What if the point of all of this galaxy-earth-people stuff isn’t a comfortable life in a two-story suburban home? Oh yes we all say we know that, yet we toil away at jobs to earn such things. What if it’s in letting go of it all that we could actually be free to have it all.
This is more than January dreaming. Dare I say that it’s a holy conviction that this life I’m walking out isn’t the ultimate plan. It’s certainly one option, but what if God has lots of options for us and it’s only in seeing the big picture–and wow, He sees much more than 1.5 billion pixels–that we can look past the comfortable door to see why we were made and formed and placed here for just such a time and purpose as _______.
I’ve spent hours watching millions of stars twinkle over Heart Mountain in Wyoming–they’re the brightest, I swear–and sometimes it looks a little like that still photo. Andromeda Galaxy is out there. We can see her. And 2.5 million lightyears away, here I sit typing these words, and you sit reading them. A child needs a snack; a dog barks to be let out; you’re late for work; the money won’t cover the bills; the song that’s playing is my favorite; a little sugar won’t hurt; don’t forget the 3:00 appointment; you’ll want a sweater today; she didn’t smile but you’ll smile anyway, warmly. For whatever it means or is worth, thank you for being one connection in the whole wide, wide, wide world.
What do you see in the stars?