Sunday, May 24, 2009
A Strange and Wonderful Thought
I had a strange and wonderful thought the other day.
I was taking a walk in the bright sunlight, strolling in bare feet to better feel the warmth of the sun-soaked grass, when my eyes went to the blue of the azure sky. What I saw above me was a vast dome, spotted here and there along the edges with white clouds, a dome whose dimensions I realized I could not fathom.
"It's so big," I thought staring into the immense expanse, floating there like an endless ocean, an ocean more vast than any ocean could ever be.
I looked down at the sidewalk, the age of its white pavement measured in a handful of years, then tilted my head back into the blue.
I was struck then with the thought that, though it looked down upon new houses and manicured lawns and bright cars, the dome into which I gazed was a primeval thing, unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years.
And though I wore khaki shorts from an expensive retailer, though in those khaki shorts was strapped a 21st Century iPod, the activity in which I participated was an ancient one.
When all the minor details were stripped away, when I was reduced to my barest physical form, I was nothing more than a boy staring at the sky, lost in it, like a billion other boys long before I was a blink in creation.
In that one moment, I was no different from the young man who walked along a shore or through a field three thousand years ago and looked up to ponder the great blue disc of the heavens.
To inspect the sky often provokes deep philosophical questions, but the act itself is the act of a child, mesmerized by the beauty of something it can't understand. The greatest of men are reduced to spectres of awe by that incomprehensible plain.
While buildings have risen and fallen, clothes come into and passed out of fashion, empires attained great power and declined into ruin, the sky has watched, unchanging, inalterable, oblivious to the toils of man below it.
And in all that time, there has always been a boy to take a moment from his summer's walk, shield his eyes from the glare of the sun, and wonder to himself in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Spanish, or even English, at what that thing really is.