Awe, Humility, and Hope

The Zeitgeist is whispering in a new language and something strange is in the air. Something new is trying to be born. Perhaps it is only my experience – it may only be in America – but there is definitely a new awareness of our place in the universe that is slowly emerging. Friends and family that have long been concerned with daily, all-too-human issues and struggles have recently looked to the stars with a little bit more wonder. It’s as if a new level of consciousness is dawning on the planet: a realization that we are a part of the planet and it is a part of us. Even church sermons have begun shifting from discussions of evil to discussions of awe and wonder over how infinite, amazing, and beautiful the universe really is. What is going on?

I do hope that I am right – that there is a new sense of wonder in the air. The promised age of Aquarius in the new millennium may be finally awakening from it’s much too long slumber, asleep from the times when the goddess ruled the Earth. A time of peace and harmony. The images coming back from the Hubble telescope and from our missions from Mars and the Moon and slowly taking hold of our collective psyche. For the first time in history, industrialized nations are taking seriously the impact we have on our planet.

The book 2010, by Arthur C. Clarke, contains a hint of this sort of emerging consciousness. After receiving the message, “all these worlds are yours except Europa attempt no landing there. Use them together use them in peace”, from an unknown source (what does the monolith represent?) Dr. Heyword Floyd says, “We were only the tenants of this world. We have been given a new lease, and a warning, from the landlord.” It is these two realizations: 1) that there is something in the universe much larger and more incomprehensible that we previously imagined, and 2) we as a species are not permanent, we are here at the leisure of the universe. It would take only one large rock from space to destroy all traces of our existence.

From Contact, by Carl Sagan, the main character Ellie Ann Arroway says, “I was part of something wonderful, something that changed me forever; a vision of the Universe that tells us undeniable how tiny, and insignificant, and how rare and precious we all are. A vision that tells us we belong to something that is greater than ourselves. That we are not, that none of us are alone. I wish I could share that. I wish that everyone, if even for one moment, could feel that awe, and humility, and the hope, but… that continues to be my wish.”

That continues to be my wish, as well.

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