The universe is not a tragic expression of meaningless chaos, but a marvelous display of an orderly cosmos. —Martin Luther King, Jr. [1]

Dr. Barbara Holmes suggests that the emerging story of the universe might have the power to actually heal:

From the intersection of theology, cosmology, physics, and culture emerges a view of human life that is not divided neatly along categories of race, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation. Instead, human life on quantum and cosmic levels evinces a oneness that is not dependent on religious hope or social plan. It is an intrinsic element of a universe that is both staggering and healing in its human/divine scope. [2]

Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium, says, “Our molecules are traceable to stars that exploded and spread these elements across the galaxy.” He explains:

[If you] see the universe as something you participate in—as this great unfolding of a cosmic story—that, I think should make you feel large, not small. . . . You will never find people who truly grasp the cosmic perspective . . . leading nations into battle. . . . When you have a cosmic perspective there’s this little speck called Earth and you say, “You’re going to what? You’re on this side of a line in the sand and you want to kill people for what? Oh, to pull oil out of the ground, what? WHAT?” . . . Not enough people in this world, I think, carry a cosmic perspective with them. It could be life-changing. [3]

Science reveals that everything is both matter and energy or spirit, co-inhering as one. This is a Christocentric universe. That realization changes everything. Matter is holy; the material world is our temple where we can worship God simply by loving and respecting matter. The Christ is God’s active power inside the physical world. [4]

How might we begin to experience this cosmic or universal perspective? We might begin by looking to the sky. Here are a few ways to practice growing this cosmic consciousness.

Find a place where you can sit or lie down with a view of a clear night sky. Just look up and let your eyes open to the vastness before you. Notice the light you can see and travel in your imagination to the source of that light and even further. Lose yourself completely in the deep, mysterious, and unimaginably vast universe. [5]

Contemplate the size of the universe:

  • There are at least 200 billion galaxies in our universe.
  • There are at least 100-200 billion planets in our galaxy alone, the Milky Way.
  • That means there are at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one septillion) planets in the universe.
  • And you are a part of it. . . .

Reflect on your life as a whole and consider Barbara Holmes’ words from earlier this week:

Solutions [in our desire for justice] may always be out of reach, but our chances of success are better when our efforts are invested with the humility that comes only with an inward and upward glance, for we are carrying our possibilities within the resonance of starborn and interconnected selves. [6]

[1] Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love (Harper & Row: 1963), 115.

[2] Barbara A. Holmes, Race and the Cosmos: An Invitation to View the World Differently (Bloomsbury T&T Clark: 2002, 1st edition), 11.

[3] “Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains Why The Cosmos Shouldn’t Make You Feel Small,” interview with WBUR News/NPR (February 27, 2014)

[4] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Christ, Cosmology, and Consciousness (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), MP3 download.

[5] If you live in a place where clear, dark skies are hard to find (or you don’t want to wait until nighttime), these images from the Hubble Space Telescope offer another view of space:

[6] Barbara A. Holmes, Race and the Cosmos: An Invitation to View the World Differently (Trinity Press International: 2002), 172-173.