About fifty years ago, long before I knew what a Jungian synchronicity was, I experienced one that still resonates with me on every clear night. I was the father of a two-year-old daughter and on a whim one evening, after her bath, I took her out to see the stars. At the tender age of two, she seemed perfectly capable of celebrating the mystery and wonder of the Universe.
After that first encounter, we established a nightly ritual. After her Mom bathed, dried, powdered her and tucked her into her sleeper, she was released. She would bound into the living room and launch her little body into my arms, overflowing with enthusiasm and say, “Show me the stars, Daddy!” And so, on every clear night, father and daughter shared the rapture of the Universe.
At the time, neither one of us knew that, 1600 years earlier, St. Augustine shared our passion for the stars. On one of his cosmic visits he pondered: “What did the Universe look like before time was created?” When asked what time is, he responded, “If you ask me I must reply that I do not know, but if you don’t ask, I know that I know.”
This may have been a beautiful manifestation of a typical dialogue between the human right brain and left brain. The right brain can contain wisdom that the left brain cannot quantify: ergo Mystery.
In spite of many boastful claims by many modern-day scientists, the truth of the matter is that St. Augustine’s query has yet to be answered. Scientists claim that the Universe is 14.5 billion years old, but the number may be arbitrary and meaningless, especially if we don’t know what time is. Some creative scientists suggest that the so-called “Big Bang” might be one of an infinite number of “Big Bang” events with each obliterating the evidence of all previous events. If this is true, we may never know where the Universe came from. Or, if the final stage of cosmic entropy is a “Big Gnab” (Bang in reverse), perhaps the Universe will return to a state of absolute nothingness. How intriguing would that be?
What terms like “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Unified Field Theory” and “The String Theory” all have in common is that they are all theories that have yet to be proved. And so scientists are still trapped in the conundrum of a Universe that has been created with no known cause. Of course, they cannot scientifically acknowledge a Supreme Being and therefore many of them scoff at religious beliefs.
They have addressed the oxymoronic dilemma of “matter cannot be created or destroyed” by claiming that quantum mechanics allows for the Universe to be so complex that it made itself out of NOTHING! (Stephen Hawking)
Meanwhile, the recent spike in racial strife and disharmony conjured up a distant memory of an event on top of Yosemite’s famous Half Dome. A Biodesign class was snuggled in a circle under a canopy of stars that were so brilliant that it seemed like we could reach out and pick a basket full. The students resonated with the wisdom of the Universe at a level that would make most astronomers blush. Suddenly, a small female voice quietly asked, “Why do people waste so much time and energy hating each other?” I suspect that every heart stopped briefly and the silence that ensued was absolute. No one had an answer.
I am growing old and 50 years after my first epiphany with my daughter, I go alone on my nightly pilgrimage to commune with the stars. Sometimes I shiver, not because of the cold, but as the racial violence, vitriol and mayhem continue, I seem to be able to identify with the saddest and shortest line in the Holy Bible: “Jesus wept!”
So, in moments such as those, I am grateful for the reminder I know she would give me now that she has raised her own two children. On some level, it’s all still a mystery. And where there is mystery, there is hope. We in the Biodesign class may not have found the answer to the question of why humans choose to hate rather than to love and focus so on our differences when we are all under the same stars in the Universe, but asking the question, exploring the mysteries, looking for truth, beauty and goodness always starts me on the path to peace and joy.