Thursday, January 1, 2015

Star Birth

           Meditation-Faculty Day (Mt. 13)

The Gospel of Matthew has presented to us the narrative of Jesus using the agricultural and lakeside setting for a parable suited to his listeners and their particular life experiences. This is as it should be; and a method we teachers can emulate, by helping our students to grow from where they are to where they can be.

This morning I want to try to relate to you an experience I had when I last heard this gospel read.
I had been thinking at the time of words I had just read that day. They were written by one of the world’s first woman astronomers at Harvard Observatory. Her name is  Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and she wrote:
          It is true that we base our work  on observed
          facts. If nothing were observed, there would
        be nothing to understand. But the facts are
        not the reality; that is something that lies
        beneath the facts and gives them coherence. If
        science, as I know it, can be described in a few
        words, it might be called ‘a search for the
        Unseen’.”[The Dyer's Hand, Cambridge Press, 

          On the screen above I have projected a photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. It is of an object of cold gas and dust called the Eagle Nebula. It is relatively close to us at 7000 light-years distance inside our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Gravitational forces are causing this dark matter to collapse into itself causing great pressure and increasing temperatures, until from it young stars emerge. As they emerge they emit large amounts of radiation which literally blows the dust away. The red stars you see are these newborns. Our sun underwent such a birth approximately 5 billion years ago. Our solar system was formed by gas and debris which did not make it into the Sun nor totally escape from it.
          Now picture all these brand new stars as "seeds" broadcast by God out into this three dimensional world of time and space, and picture our star, the sun, as being one about which a small piece of matter revolved and which piece of matter had the fertile conditions needed to allow for an evolution of life to proceed to us here today. Good work, God! 
                                                                  Charlie Mc