The gravitational waves of faith: 2-16-16
A pope's revealing letters to a female friend: 2-18-16

Learning from darkness, silence: 2-17-16

I wrote here yesterday a little about what the recent first-time measurement of gravitational waves might mean in terms of religion.

Ark15-3Today I want to follow up on that by sharing with you this New York Times piece called "Finding Beauty in the Darkness." In some ways it, too, looks for beyond-science meaning in the stunning scientific achievement of detecting gravitational waves from the collapse of one black hole into another a billion years ago.

When we stare into the deep darkness of space, we discover things about ourselves and our place is the cosmos. Without knowing those things we might continue to live in ignorant, foolish ways.

We might, for instance, imagine that the first creation story in the book of Genesis is scientifically correct in the way it describes a hardened shell of a firmament that makes up what exists above us.

And we might never appreciate the power of human creativity and imagination.

As the Times piece to which I've linked you notes about the gravitational waves news: "To detect the signal they observed they had to be able to measure a periodic difference in the length between the two tunnels by a distance of less than one ten-thousandth the size of a single proton. It is equivalent to measuring the distance between the earth and the nearest star with an accuracy of the width of a human hair." Sort of takes your breath away, doesn't it?

But when we spend time in the darkness, when we allow our hearts to slow down, when we turn off all our electronic devices (don't do that until you finish my blog today, please), we can more easily find our center, our core, our spirit, our soul.

In many ways, that's what this Christian season of Lent is about. It's what Judaism's High Holy Days are about. It's what Islam's Ramadan is about. We Christians at this time of year are asked to value the darkness, the silence, the truths and beauty we can find only in the darkness and silence.

(The book to read is Learning to Walk in the Dark, by Barbara Brown Taylor. I wrote about that here.)

OK. Now go out and play in the dark.

(The photo here today of light and darkness is one I took last year in rural Arkansas.)

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One of the top candidates to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court is a Hindu, Sri Srinivasan, with a background in Kansas. If he's nominated and confirmed (huge ifs), the court then would be made up of five Catholics, three Jews and a Hindu. The new America.

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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online here.


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