Saturday, December 03, 2005

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0009 - Cosmos

I hope there aren’t a lot of sleepless nights.

This morning, my wife and I did a few typical weekend errands and then stopped to have a speciality coffee at Starbucks. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. Maybe it was having time just to be alone with her. Maybe it is the nature of facing cancer up-front-and-personal. Or maybe my body knows I need the catharsis. But when I found myself trying to explain why reading Psalm 19 in unison at the healing liturgy on Wednesday morning left me close to tears, I felt the tears welling up again.

We got in the car, drove on, and yet the tears continued unabated.

Psalm 19: 1-6

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

Gradually, I tried to explain that it isn’t the traditional Christian theology that affects me. It is what Paul Tillich would call “ultimate concern”. Being in the healing liturgy and speaking the psalm revealed something to me - as I face mortality and try to clarify values, two elements keep surfacing.

One is family and friends. Over the past week or so, family members and friends have expressed heartfelt sympathy and compassion. Their love has touched me deeply.

The other is the universe itself, what Carl Sagan would call the Cosmos. Moments of astonishment and awe occur with regularity whenever I contemplate the beauty, grandeur, and immensity of the “created” order. God is only my symbolic name for that ultimate reality.

I tried to explain that it wasn’t tears of sorrow that I was wiping from my eyes. Sure, there is something of a sense of potential loss. But far more significantly, my tears were what Tillich would say were a response to “a pervasive sense of joy.”

So, my wife and I made a change to our errand list, drove to the public library and found the first five episodes of Sagan’s Cosmos on DVD. I’ve started viewing the DVDs. It was a very good choice! If I can’t sleep tonight, I will know exactly what to do.

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