A few mornings ago, feeling emotional after waking from another “visitation” dream of my deceased mother, I went outside to see how much frost needed to be removed from my car before I could leave for work. There was a layer of frost, but clinging to the frost were thousands of snowflakes – an unexpected visual delight I hadn’t seen all winter! There was very little time left before I needed to leave, but I took out my photography gear and spent about five minutes reveling in the beauty of the patterns of the snowflakes magnified through my macro lens. It was a world that so easily could go unnoticed. Either you get up too late, after it already has melted away, or you start defrosting or scraping without seeing such tiny details – for instance, stacks of delicate snowflakes as captured in this image:
Every snowflake in a sprawling blanket of snow, and every drop of water in the ocean, is precious.
The catch is that you have to train your eyes to see such miniscule wonders. Or perhaps your eyes are opened by grace in a given moment because it was time for you to see. There is a sermon inside every snowflake if you look at it the right way and are receptive to its fascinating secret.
Each year, a tree produces hundreds or thousands of leaves. If you look closely, you will notice that every leaf is imprinted with the pattern of a tree.
And consider our bodies. Inside our bodies, there are multitudes of cells being generated, living, and dying, just like humans on planet Earth. At a cellular level, dramas unfold through reproductive processes that take place silently and secretly – processes of which we are not conscious. Every single breath is a spectacular event – perhaps like a roller coaster ride or a story of transformation from the perspective of oxygen molecules – but we are largely unaware of the rhythm and process of it as we go about the business of living our lives.
There is so much taking place, so much to be revealed to us if only we look more carefully or employ tools that help us to zoom in and see beyond what we can perceive with the naked eye. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, zooming out provides us with insight about how everything fits together into something larger than itself.
Becoming aware of the universe that exists inside each human body makes me wonder: If we were to zoom way out, are we like infinitesimal cells inside a larger being that we are too small to perceive? And could that entity be but a single cell in something even larger?
These thoughts have been building over the past several days and are blowing my mind this morning! A few days ago, I came across a video (which is absolutely worth three and a half minutes of your time) based on a gargantuan, panoramic photo released by NASA of the Andromeda galaxy. The video portrays impressively our place in the vastness of the cosmos. For me, the timing was perfect.
Prior to seeing the video, I had been revisiting a vision I had a while back of a vast wall covered completely with a sprawling, painted canvas. But the masterpiece painted on the canvas extends far – perhaps infinitely – beyond the boundaries of the wall. Somewhere on the vast wall is a postage stamp sized frame, and if you look inside the frame you can perceive familiar forms – perhaps sky, trees, houses, and figures of people and animals. We humans are the size of pin heads in relation to this postage stamp sized frame, and we take it all in, make what sense we can, and to some degree think we understand the meaning of what we see inside the tiny frame. This miniscule masterpiece (that is a small part of a larger canvas, that in turn is but a small portion of a possibly infinite canvas) represents our perception of our human lives. But what we can perceive – the part that falls within the postage stamp sized area – isn’t as it appears if you zoom out. Doing so, you see that the individual forms inside the frame extend far beyond the frame and are parts of much larger shapes and patterns.
It’s like taking the sensation of standing at the edge of the ocean or on a mountaintop and magnifying it a thousandfold.
We debate and argue about the meaning of the forms we perceive within the confines of the postage stamp sized frame – which is all our conditioned minds can see. We blame and/or venerate others, exalt ourselves for our perceived successes, and/or rebuke ourselves for our perceived shortcomings and failures – thinking or even fearing that we know The Truth.
But how could we possibly know?
From a wider perspective, perhaps events that seem confusing or tragic on a personal level serve a larger, higher purpose in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps they offer us the gifts of awakening and evolving. Perhaps the biochemistry we inherit or the personal losses that throw us off balance and feel so jolting are actually spiritual blessings. Perhaps we need to extend our perception through time and space to understand this and to realize how inherently connected we are to other forms, beyond the extremely limited frame of human perception. Perhaps doing so will help us cultivate serenity, love ourselves more fully, and in turn live more authentically.
How would it change your life to believe – truly believe – that you are not broken or deficient in some way? That who you are at your core is the light of the universe, imprinted with the pattern of the galaxies? That you can access this higher power at any time by focusing on your inner light?
Zoom in, zoom out, shine on.
The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.
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