Gifts from Our Children
(Posted July 14, 2022)
“A child is a beam of sunlight from the Infinite and Eternal, with possibilities of virtue and vice, but as yet unstained.”
-- Lyman Abbott, Congregational Minister
I’m always fascinated by the fact that a child who looks up at the star in the sky sees something entirely different that someone in their 30’s, 40’s and beyond. We may see a bright, distant being. But the child sees colors.
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The Vision We Lose as We Mature
It seems that something is lost as we mature, in the eye’s ability to discern the clouds of gases in deep space, the nursery for new stars being born even as we gaze. The constellation Orion becomes visible to us here in Danbury in the late fall and throughout winter. Its “sword” hangs from the giant’s belt includes a star nursery with vibrant colors that any child with binoculars can see. How sad it is that most adults see no color but muted light.
I think there’s a reason for this. Adults are too busy to notice a lot of things. We need the children to remind us. A child can look at the picture of Earth as a tiny, fragile, little blue marble floating in the vastness of eternity. I think they understand that Earth is God’s gift to humankind.
But like so many blessings we adults are gifted without our asking, we take them for granted. To us, the earth is a place to drain of its resources. It’s a place of commerce, of making a buck or a million, and not really caring about others on the planet.
Visions of a Gift Taken for Granted
This Sunday’s Hebrew Bible reading comes from Amos, a not-quite-prophet in 722 BCE who has visions of how hurt and angry God is by our human abuse of one another and the gift of the world. In Amos’ apocalyptic vision, God has given us a basket of ripe summer fruit, but we in our greed and exploitation have turned God’s abundance into decay and destruction of nature.
He speaks of drought, wildfires, famine, storms, and darkness. Ironically, we watch today’s TV as firefighters try to wet down the Giant Sequoias, some of them 3,500 years old, to protect them from wildfires. We watch as our plastic waste and trash is fished out of the ocean before more ocean life is killed. We watch as billionaires fight over ways to enlarge their fortunes through oil exploration – niggling battles on the surface of our fragile Little Blue Marble spinning though earth, as her balance of life and weather are upended.
A Vision of Infinity
And yet the children can see. They see not only the stars and colorful birth of the new. They also seem to understand that God’s Universe and God’s timelessness are beyond human comprehension.
With the release this week of the James Webb Telescope’s first pictures of the far distant universe, the children and we adults are looking at galaxies that are 296 million LIGHT YEARS away. That distance is literally beyond our feeble human minds’ comprehension. We are looking at galaxies’ that are 6 sextillion years away – not million billion, trillion or quadrillion miles distant.
And children understand the infinite scale of God’s creation. We may take the sunshine for granted, but kids know that the light we feel now actually left the sun eight minutes ago.
This Sunday we will celebrate not only a precious baptism, but also the gift of children and the amazing things we are learning about the gift of the earth. Come celebrate with us!
About the Image , Stephan's Quintet
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, is best known for being prominently featured in the holiday classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Webb shows never-before-seen details in this galaxy group. Sparkling clusters of millions of young stars and starburst regions of fresh star birth grace the image. Sweeping tails of gas, dust and stars are being pulled from several of the galaxies due to gravitational interactions. Most dramatically, Webb captures huge shock waves as one of the galaxies, NGC 7318B, smashes through the cluster.