On our recent trip to New Mexico, we visited the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque and attended part of a lecture on black holes. Black holes are phenomena first hinted at by Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and there has been evidence of their existence for a while, but now astronomers have actually been able to see one. It is 55 million light years away from Earth. Another black hole is closer to earth, only 24,000 light years away in our Milky Way galaxy. Once something comes into the gravitational pull of a black hole, it eventually gets sucked into the black hole and can never escape. Theoretically, Earth could be sucked into a black hole in billions of years. When the docent said that, Jovanne asked, “I won’t be alive then, will I?”
I was able to assure Jovanne that no, this possible cosmic event is so far away in time that most likely there won’t be any more people alive. I explained that Earth existed long before it had life and will probably exist long after life has ceased to be. And I had to admit that astrophysics boggles my mind, that I just cannot grasp it. My mind is too limited to understand that the picture of a black hole shows something as it was 55 million years ago.
Then I got to thinking: If God is eternal, he/she/it preceded the Big Bang, black holes, and the formation of our solar system. God is bigger than the universe, which we are told is continually expanding. And if God is omnipresent, then the Divine is everywhere in this mindbogglingly huge, expanding universe. And if my mind can’t grasp the realities of the universe, how can I possibly claim to understand who or what God is? How can I assign gender to God or claim to know his/her/its will? And yet, I have experienced God’s presence. But when people say that they know all about God’s will and intent, it reminds me of the story of three blind people each touching a different part of an elephant. They each proclaimed something very different about what it was they had touched. I think that what I know of God is similar to what I know of the universe: I know only the part I have experienced, which is a tiny part of a much bigger, incomprehensible whole. It makes sense to me that different cultures have developed different belief systems to explain what is essentially unexplainable and way beyond the ability of our limited minds to comprehend: the true awe-someness of the Divine in our lives. So, the next time you look up with wonder at the starry night sky, try to remember that God is so much more awe-inspiring than the wondrous universe. To borrow a phrase from the sixties: it can blow your mind. – Kristina B.