Friday, December 17, 2010

Advent meditations: Halley's comet

I wrote 12 meditations for Advent for our parish Advent calendar...I will post some of them here as well.

In 1986, when I was eight years old, I began to understand the finitude of human life when it is juxtaposed with the universe--heady stuff for a second grader. It was late at night, much later than I was usually allowed to stay up, and my entire family had gathered at the summit of Mount Haleakala to observe the passing of Halley’s comet. It was cold at the 10,000 foot elevation and we were crammed with a great many other people in the observatory perched above the cinder filled caldera. I huddled next to my grandmother and craned my neck in order to see. A bright star traced across the sky and I was silent with the magnitude of the night, the cold and this star that moved and caused the usual rules to be suspended. It was then that my grandmother turned to me and told me that she would be dead when this star crossed our skies again. I was not saddened by this news, but rather impressed: impressed at the length of days that lay ahead; impressed that she trusted me with this information about her own mortality; and impressed with the idea that I might live long enough to witness Halley’s crossing again. More than 20 years later my grandmother is still alive and I am struck once more by her long life…a long life marked by the reminder that even the longest of lives is short. I am also struck that the first recorded sighting of Halley’s comet is recorded in the Talmud and is dated to 66 AD —around the time of the composition of the Gospels (approximately 30-90AD). Our story in the here and now is connected…connected to the story of all history. In this Advent as we prepare for the arrival of the baby Christ I am reminded of the perpetual promise of salvation and the restoration of creation in the simple fact of new life.

How do you connect to the story of history in the here and the now?

(the Hubble telescope image gallery)

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