Every Sunday our pastor sits down with the children on the carpet at the front of the church for a children’s chat.
On Pentecost (June 4) she brought a compressed air tube filled with glitter. It discharged with a loud bang sending streamers and colorful glitter raining down on their heads to symbolize the Pentecost. The children, even the toddlers, were soon gathering up streamers and glitter.
Amazingly, the glitter was mostly in the shape of stars of different colors reminding me of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. I soon realized that the cannon discharged by our pastor symbolized more than the Pentecost, particularly since near our town scientists were busy at the LIGO gravitational wave observatory, using highly tuned lasers to detect gravity waves as predicted by Einstein.
Ever since humankind emerged from the dark caves of our past and the shamans and elders began contemplating the stars, they have been gathering them into constellations of animals, gods and warriors.
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The fascination with stars has extended to sophisticated space-based telescopes, arrays of radio telescopes, launching of spaceships with golden message plates that will tens of thousands of years from now reach the nearest stars — even eventually the Milky Way.
Some scientists think that even life on Earth was seeded from outer space since cosmic dust contains complex organic compounds necessary for life. I was fascinated with the children that Sunday morning gathering up the stars and carrying them off or sticking them on their foreheads. It is a primordial urge. Perhaps we are star children after all.
But the discharge of the pastor’s glitter cannon also reminded me of the Big Bang. The elemental ingredients of all that exists were exploded out of nothing to begin the process of making stars and planets and sentient life.
Today, computer simulations of the expanding universe resemble a network of nodes and branches. A thin section of a mouse brain reveals a neural network that looks just like the expanding universe set in motion by the Big Bang. The network of the brain is a model of the universe and vice versa — maybe they are in a sense the same thing.
The Pentecost represents the explosion of spiritual energy into a network of nodes and branches lighting up the universe, but it is detectable by our hearts instead of powerful telescopes. This spiritual energy was palpable that Sunday morning while outside of town gravity waves from the collisions of black holes were being detected by lasers.
The universe is full of waves and networks of energy. We do not know if there are other neural nodes in the network that like earth harbor sentience. We should know that whatever the answer, the Earth is a gem of creation with millions of species of life, all permeated with a network of spiritual energy.
It has taken billions of years to create this node of life and spirit in the network. For this reason alone our little Earth is sacred.
The spirit of the Pentecost makes demands on us. We need to tune our hearts like a laser to detect and respond by gathering up the spirit-filled stars like the children did on Pentecost Sunday.
Melvin Adams is a retired scientist and librarian, resident poet at Northwest United Protestant Church in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA, 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.