I was watching a documentary on the universe with our space-loving 5-year-old the other day, and it reminded me of this epiphany I had a while back . . .
|Photo credit: NASA|
Mathematically speaking, we humans barely exist. The percentage of space we take up is so small as to be statistically insignificant. I’m not much of a math person, but looking at what we know about the universe, I can understand how that is.
Aside from our sun, the closest star to Earth is a little more than 4 light years—or 24 trillion miles—away. Twenty-four thousand billion. There’s no way to wrap your brain around that distance. And that’s just our next closest star.
And those other stars we gaze at in the sky? They might not even exist anymore. In the time it takes for their light to reach our eyes (which can be tens of thousands of years), some of them have up and gone kaput. We’re gazing at something that may not even be there. That blows my mind.
And when you consider that you could fit a million Earths inside our sun, and the next closest star is 4 light years away, and our galaxy alone is 100,000 light years across, and there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the universe . . . well, my brain just imploded.
So here’s little old us—infinitesimal specks on this miniscule blue marble, floating around in the unfathomable immensity of space, for barely blip on the time continuum.
As individuals in the big picture, we are totally insignificant. Nothings, truly.
And yet, here we are.
And we’re so clearly not nothings here in our little corner of the cosmos. As mothers, we are anything but insignificant, especially in the eyes of our children.
In the beginning, mothers are a baby’s whole universe. We are it. They are created inside of us. They know nothing outside of our sphere of being. They need us and look to us first. We are food and shelter and comfort and safety. They have no concept of light years and galaxies, or our sun and neighboring planets, or that they live on Earth, or that even the next town exists.
Gradually, their universe expands and they find out that there is much more to life than Mama, but for a little while, in their eyes, we are everything.
So yes, you are incredibly tiny in this mind-blowingly vast universe.
But then again . . .
metaphorically speaking . . .
on a microcosmic level . . .
for a short period of time . .
as a mother . . .
You ARE the universe.
– Imám ‘Alí (quoted by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Secrets of Divine Civilization)