I sat with a friend of mine at the hospital while he waited for his wife who was in surgery. Surrounded by monitors and equipment to assist in the care of patients, it was an ironic scene, as he was sitting and reading a Discovery magazine story on jellyfish. He said, “There’s a jellyfish that never dies and it’s called the ‘immortal jellyfish.’ It says ‘when it is on the verge of losing all its energy, it reverts back to a “blob-like cyst” to take on new life.’ Scientists are studying the animal to understand its immortality.”
This article spurred a conversation about the miracles of science and life. He said, “We are oblivious to some of the most miraculous things that happen to us.” It boggles the mind… He continued that he recently heard that “A cell phone, a small computer that we hold in our hand is two hundred times more powerful than the computer that helped land a man on the moon.” I checked my email on a computer that is responsible for connecting a world unlike any other instrument since the Guttenburg Press. We are surrounded by technology that is taking life and transforming it in ways we thought inconceivable.
Considering that there is so much about life we don’t know, I thought about how much life passes us by and how many miracles we miss in one day. I awoke today to a heartbeat that is taken for granted. Nova Online states, “The average heart beats over 100,000 times a day and 2.5 million times in a year. During the average lifetime, a human heart will beat over 2.5 billion times.”
On 60 Minutes they featured a story on deep space called “Spectacular Revelations.” The Hubble telescope is sending back pictures that are challenging our views of who we are in relationship to the vast galaxies that lay beyond us. One Noble laureate, Adam Reese, who won his Nobel based on Hubble information, calculated that there are over two hundred sextillion stars. He said, “There are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand on beaches that cover the earth.”
The sites prompted me to think about the cosmology of the universe. Scientists were pointing out pictures of gases, dust and particles where new planets and galaxies were forming. I thought, “When you’re thinking small, consider the vast possibilities that lay beyond us.” On the other hand, the universe can teach us a great deal about ourselves. By looking at the network of things that form and come together, we can learn how we are generated and our lives began.
There is constant regeneration like that jellyfish my friend talked about. Dr. Amber Straughn noted “stars that die send out their contents into the surrounding universe. These contents seed future life. Our iron in our blood and calcium in our bones was literally forged inside of a star that ended its life.” She said, “We are literally composed of stardust.” She pointed to a picture of a fiber strand of a planet forming. These pictures that depict the formation of stars can tell us a lot about how things come together.
Back with my friend at the hospital, we both were mesmerized by the generation of life through technology. He observed, “the thing that is my greatest adversary at times is the very thing that is keeping me and my loved ones alive and inspires me to see something greater.”
Ain’t that the truth? Science can take us places we’ve never considered literally and figuratively. It can inspire us to recognize universes big and small.
Whether we learn from the ocean’s depths, an experience on land or in the searching quest of the cosmos, the truth is attainable through discovery. Whether it’s in a jellyfish or in the formation of a star, we are in the presence of new life, death, and powerful incarnational realities.
It surrounds us. It encompasses us and reveals the great mysteries of life that inform where we have been and what we are to become. The universe within and our perception of the universe outside can uncover truths that can point to the magnificent expression that is God’s creation.