Reflections From the River

Since the economy is in a kind of black hole, I was interested to read that researchers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have traced the building blocks of the universe back one more step and it leads to the massive black holes in space. We know that the Earth did not spring out of thin air but is essentially recycled matter and higher elements. The story of Genesis gets it right in the sense that we truly come from dust—space dust. But where did that dust come from?

Many galaxies have a black hole at their center and the researchers for the first time were able to see how a supermassive black hole in a galaxy eight billion light years from ours was shooting out winds carrying dust composed of complex elements. The theory is that black holes suck in simple gases at high velocity where they collide and are superheated, fusing together to form complex molecule and grains of dust. Thrust back into space the dust eventually collects and forms stars and planets with the chemical compounds from which life can form.

From chaos come the building blocks for creation. It is something good to remember when spiritual storms are brewing inside our lives and also outside in the economic environment. And how do we endure chaotic times? It seems counter intuitive but it is through praise that we bear our transformations. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke understood this so well in the following poem translated by Albert Ernest Flemming:

O tell us poet, what it is you do?
—I praise.
But in the midst of deadly turmoil, what
Helps you endure, and how do you survive?
—I praise.
And that which nameless is, anonymous,
How do you, poet, still call out to them?
—I praise.
Who grants you your right to pose in any guise,
Wear any mask, and still remain sincere?
—I praise.
And that the stillness and the violence—
Like the star and storm—know and acknowledge you?
—because I praise.

We survive our deepest struggles because the human spirit rose from the dust with the possibility of joy and praise. It is why we come to church.