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blustar1

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

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A Word in the silence

Light in the darkness

One single ember scatters a blaze — millions of sparks,

Each a sun, a planet — glowing into light-years of space.

A Word births galaxies, spins orbits, sets morning stars singing,

Light giving life.

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Somewhere a small blue-green ball sees its first sunrise.

Time as He counts it — all times are now — streams by,

shimmering light and encroaching dark

until

a Star slips to earth,

shines from the misty eyes of a newborn.

Stars spin, galaxies dance,

the Light flashes to the corners of our soul-darkness.

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Eons, moments, till the Light extinguishes the darkness

with a Word cried from a cross,

splits the borders of death with Light

deafens the silence with the Word.

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Planets spiral, stars rise and set,

Light blasts through clinging blue-green shadows

with the voice of the Angel,

the trumpet-Word of God.

Morning rays of a million nebulae flash

A forever-day, never night again.

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The Word made flesh, God from the beginning;

before stars dawned in Orion’s belt,

before the singing of planets,

before any shadow fell,

before we — less than sparks

in the eons-long conflagration of space —

before we saw the Light of His glory,

God, first, last, and forever,

Is.

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For the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

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People who live by the sea
understand eternity.
They copy the curves of the waves,
their hearts beat with the tides,
& the saltiness of their blood
corresponds with the sea.

They know that the house of flesh
is only a sandcastle
built on the shore,
that skin breaks
under the waves
like sand under the soles
of the first walker on the beach
when the tide recedes.

Each of us walks there once,
watching the bubbles
rise up through the sand
like ascending souls,
tracing the line of the foam,
drawing our index fingers
along the horizon
pointing home.

“People Who Live” by Erica Jong, from Becoming Light. © Harper Perennial, 1981. Reprinted with permission.

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I’ve often thought that the sea and the sky are the only notions we have of eternity — flawed, because our atmosphere and our oceans have borders and ends, but nonetheless, the only concept we can truly have.  The idea of something fathomless stretching beyond our eyesight, and ultimately beyond what we can map and own, is the closest we will come this side of heaven to any kind of understanding of the infinite.

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hubble

Hubble Movie

I went to see the Hubble Imax 3D a little while ago and it was  just amazing…really, words can’t describe the awe-inspiring beauty of the deep space pictures and movies taken by the Hubble telescope.

The 3D glasses were ok, although since the whole movie wasn’t shot in 3D (the parts with the astronauts weren’t entirely), some of it looked a little flat and strange.  I actually wished they wouldn’t have the parts with the shuttle and stuff — I just wanted more of the star pictures!

It was actually pretty amazing to have the stars look like they were standing out and looking almost like you could touch them!  I just kept sitting there thinking how great God was to make such beautiful and intricately interlaced patterns out of gas and minerals.

The really weird part for me was thinking that these shapes are actually composed of millions upon trillions of worlds the size of ours.  The pictures were so immediate, I felt like I was right there, but when I thought about it, these things are beyond huge, and if I were right there, I wouldn’t see more than a tiny speck of it, like I do of our own Milky Way.  Makes you feel tiny and insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Then, of course, I got to thinking about how truly amazing it is that I, being a tiny speck on a tiny speck of a planet, should have the Creator of all this come down to die for me.  That made me feel truly loved, humble and unworthy, but loved inexpressibly.

So I spent a good deal of the space sections of the movie with my eyes slightly blurred with tears — understandably so, but I did have to keep blinking and swiping my eyes so I didn’t miss any of the glory.  It’s amazing to me that these gorgeous clouds are really just gas suspended in space.

I love the colors, too!  I always think of space as being black, dark, and empty.  I suppose probably most of it is, actually — even though these galaxies are beyond huge, space itself is infinitely larger — but the colors and light of these pictures make it feel like a wild and beautiful place.

My favorite part of the whole movie was the shots of the Orion Nebula.  As you might remember from this post, the Orion Nebula has always fascinated me as being the place where Jesus will come from when He comes again.  (Well, the quote says from behind the middle star in Orion’s belt, but I figure no one knew about nebulae back then.)  I’ve loved pictures of it, because it seems to go around a corner and then…where?  The gateway to heaven?  If only one could see just a little further.  But the Hubble actually has some shots of inside the nebula, in the center where a star nursery is.  That was stunning!

I could still see that it goes on, past the nursery, into deeper space…but just to see a little further around that corner was engrossing — the scenery “on the way to heaven”, if you will.

At any rate, the Hubble 3D movie was wonderful and I would go see it again, even though it spent WAY too much time on the shuttle.  It was cool to see it take off, though, from the cameras near the launch pad.  But I just wanted more stars!

*if you want more stars, go to this link*

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We seek with bursting missiled power

To pierce the realm of blue,

But love divine unfurled the skies

To let a song come through

— Lillian Atcherson

SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) has spent a lot of time and money over the past few decades trying to prove that there is life beyond this planet, and not only that, but intelligent life that could contact us.  I find it somewhat amusing that they have put so much effort into this search when the Bible clearly states that there are other worlds (Hebrews 1:2).  One would think God would make more than one with life, especially since ours turned out to be such a bad “science experiment”.  In fact, there are intelligent, sinless beings on other worlds, watching what unfolds on ours with mingled horror and wonder (White, Patriarchs and Prophets, pg. 68).  Is it any wonder, then, that SETI hasn’t found any evidence of intelligent life?  If I were an unfallen being who saw the horrible reality of life on a sin-filled planet, I would not reveal myself to any probes from that planet.  Probably, too, having not had sin and death for these six thousand years, the inhabitants are much more advanced than we, and have no trouble eluding our probes!  In fact, they may even be in a different area of the universe, one where SETI’s technology can never reach.  I don’t think SETI will find anything, ever.  Not that I think there is nothing to be found, but that God will not allow us to infect any other planet, until the sin problem is finished and the world is made new again.

That said, we have had at least one famous, documented visit from extra-terrestrials.  The angel song we sing about in our Christmas carols was one that could not be ignored, and it isn’t the only angel visit in the Bible, although it is the best-known (Luke 2:8-14).  Through all our strivings to reach outer space, and searchings to find intelligent life, it has already visited us — and changed our lives forever, if we can but accept the message they bring.  SETI, eat your heart out!

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The little crescent is Venus; the big one is the moon.  I thought it looked really neat; usually I just see Venus as the “evening star”.  It’s always odd, because pictures like this look so bright and friendly, but the moon and Venus are out in empty black space, not friendly at all.  I don’t know which I like better, but this is less fearsomely awe-inspiring and more just beautiful.

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I have been interested in the Hubble telescope’s views of the Orion Nebula for a long time.  When I was little and learning to identify constellations with my grandmother, she told me that Jesus would come from behind the star in the center of Orion’s belt, which, as an older student, I later took to mean the Nebula.  So I have always loved the pictures of the Orion Nebula, mostly the views that look like the Nebula “turns a corner”, like the one above.  I like pictures down paths, through gates, and around corners anyway, and this seems to me to be the crown of them all.

In her vision of December 16, 1848, Ellen G. White recounts what she saw relating to the verse in the Bible that says the “powers of heaven will be shaken” (Luke 21:26).

I saw that when the Lord said “heaven,” in giving the signs recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, He meant heaven, and when He said “earth” He meant earth.  The powers of heaven are the sun, moon, and stars.  They rule in the heavens.  The powers of earth are those that rule on the earth.  The powers of heaven will be shaken at the voice of God.  Then the sun, moon, and stars will be moved out of their places.  They will not pass away, but be shaken by the voice of God.

Dark, heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other.  The atmosphere parted and rolled back; then we could look up through the open space in Orion, whence came the voice of God.  The Holy City will come down through that open space.  I saw that the powers of earth are now being shaken and that events come in order.  War, and rumors of war, sword, famine, and pestilence are first to shake the powers of earth, then the voice of God will shake the sun, moon, and stars, and this earth also.  I saw that the shaking of the powers in Europe is not, as some teach, the shaking of the powers of heaven, but it is the shaking of the angry nations (Early Writings, pg. 41).

Some people have used this (and other) quotes from Ellen White to try to discredit Adventism by saying that there is no ‘open space’ in Orion, since it is composed of stars that lie light-years apart and form a constellation only from our viewpoint here on Earth.  Now that we see such clear pictures with the Hubble telescope, I should think that the naysayers would feel somewhat short-sighted.  She didn’t say the constellation, but just ‘Orion’.  To me, that means the Nebula, and that does indeed have an open space.  Of course, people will always have something to say about things they don’t want to believe, especially when it comes to believing that there is a God out there who is planning on returning, and that very soon.

For myself, I love looking at those pictures and imagining the day that Hubble, or whatever telescope replaces it, ‘sees’ the Holy City coming down out of the open space in the Orion Nebula, turning the corner, as it were, and sliding down the blackness of space like a glowing jewel.  There will be no telescope there then, of course, but I’d love to see it from that vantage point.  Not as much, however, as I will love being in the City as it descends to Earth from the door of Orion.

All images from spacetelescope.org.

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relativity

On Tax Day, I’m sure many of us are bemoaning life.  Whether we have to pay or not, tax day is an annoying task that seems to come around much more often than once a year.  Given that, I thought a little perspective might be in order…for me (you all do what you want).

relative sizes of the smaller planets

relative sizes of all planets in the solar system

relative sizes of planets compared to sun

relative size of sun compared to other nearby stars

relative sizes of previous stars with larger ones

view of part of the universe from Hubble

zoom shot of one of the "dark" areas from previous photo

It kind of puts other problems in perspective, doesn’t it?  And the best part?  Now that we’re properly humbled, here’s the clincher:

relative importance of me to God

Now, if only I could get the IRS to decide my taxes weren’t that important…

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