19 September 2011

The Big Picture

The Big Picture - Griffith Observatory
Looking up, I, with tear-dimmed eyes, saw the mighty Milky-way. Remembering what it was - what countless systems there swept space like a soft trace of light - I felt the might and strength of God. Sure was I of His efficiency to save what He had made: convinced I grew that neither earth should perish, nor one of the souls it treasured.
- Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Look at that smog! You can barely see the Hollywood sign!
Last week, I decided to get out of the house and get some culture. So, I drove myself out to the Griffith Observatory, which is free and in the amazing Griffith Park in the view of the Hollywood sign. Before entering the observatory, I took a stroll in the park and watched the sunset over that infamous monument. The park was peaceful, as I took time to breathe in the lovely California smog and think about life - trying not to stress about it is more like it.

One of the things about being "in between contracts" is that it gives one a lot of time to think, aka get discouraged and worry about what is next and when it's going to come about. Some days, I am able to be positive. Some days, positivity is just not possible. Most days, it is about just focusing on the here and now. 

My visit to the observatory was one of those days. Just trying to enjoy the present and trust that better times are to come. One of the exhibits actually really brought this point home for me, and it keeps being brought back to my attention. 

They have this amazing exhibit called "The Big Picture". What it is, (pictured above) is essentially a big picture of space - of stars, galaxies, and the universe. Yes, it is awesome to look at as you walk around a room exploring space. As described on the website, the photo shows just a tiny slice of the universe - about the amount of sky that your index finger would cover if you held it about a foot away from your eyes. Viewed through the telescope that took this picture, there are over one-and-a-half million visible stars, galaxies and other celestial objects! And that is just what 1 index finger covers! 

In one of the videos about the photo, it showed the scale of the stars and galaxies seen. Now, anyone who has been to an observatory or taken an astronomy class knows that the light from stars that we see here on earth is "in the past" - that is that the light that the star gave off had to travel so many billions of light years to get to us here on earth. And that takes time. So, essentially the light that we are seeing was emitted from the star in the past. But we are seeing it in the present - we are looking through time into the past! What a crazy concept right?!

But what really got me was the depth of space video. It showed the depth and scale of the sliver of space we were viewing in the Big Picture. From this video, you could see just how small and tiny we were in the scale and depth of the universe. And how what we can see in space is just a minutiae of what exists. 

How do you see stars with all that light / smog pollution!?!
It got me thinking. There is a bigger picture out there. As that quote from Jane Eyre (read just this morning!) emphasises - we are so small in the grand scheme of things, in the big picture of the universe. But just as God neither prevents the universe from imploding, so will he protect us and implement his plan for us. But, just as we view the light from stars that radiated out of it billions of years ago, when life is rendered, when we see the light, will be at the right time for us. 

I didn't mean for this to get all spiritual or contemplative on you, but when the Big Picture is put in front of your eyes, you really start to put into perspective all the time spent worrying about your own small slice of the universe. 

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