Last night, we went up the hills of the Diablo Range in Morgan Hill to watch the Perseids meteor shower. It was totally dark but the place was full of cars and people. We laid out a blanket and laid down to watch the night sky. The Perseids did not disappoint. In a span of thirty minutes, I counted twelve meteors streaking through the night sky.
I got more than I bargained or hoped for. As I watched the heavens waiting for the next meteor to zoom by, I got more and more entranced by the stars and the Milky Way. Because it was a moonless night, there were more stars than I remember seeing in a long time now. And the longer I stared out into the vast expanse of space, the more stars there were to see. Soon, I can easily see the nebulous whiteness that was the Milky Way. The milkiness is not due to some diffused light from the stars but it was actually the layers upon layers of stars that make up our galaxy. It boggles my mind just to think that there are more stars out there than there are grains of sand in all the world.
As I felt the ground beneath my back, I felt a oneness with the earth under me and with all the stars above me and with all the nature that embraced me in the night. I am but one tiny creature in this planet. And this planet is but a tiny speck in our galaxy. And the Milky Way is but one of a billion galaxies. All those stars too have planets revolving around them. In the vastness of all those numbers, there must be other planets that have intelligent life forms like us; that we are not alone in this universe. It is an awesome thought.
And yet, improbable as it might seem, is it really the height of conceit to believe that our species is one of a kind in the whole universe or is this the reality? After all the billions of years the universe has been around, there should be more sentient beings like us. And we should already have been in contact with them by now. In the face of all these probabilities and impossibilities, I stare at the night sky in wondering amazement and the Desiderata comes to mind:
“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Lying there on the grass and staring at the sky, I felt one with everything and everyone around me. And I felt also why I am different. The stars are fixed in the skies above me. The earth has its own assigned position. The living things around cannot but go by their instincts. man alone in all of creation has been endowed with freedom. Even taking what some scientists may say, it is still a fact that I can make choices and can go where I decide to go. And ironically, it is this freedom that often breaks and destroys my oneness with the rest of creation and the other creatures around me.
And man alone had the power to restore the oneness once it is broken. Man can choose to forgive and the oneness is restored. Man’s freedom allows him to give and receive forgiveness; and in forgiveness, exercise atonement for sins and transgressions. Through forgiveness and atonement (at-one-ment), oneness among men and in creation is restored.