I feel in my bones the interconnectedness of places, times and lives.
If I had the means, I would travel a lot. As it is, I read; and I read about Pluto with as much interest as I do Palestine – or The Shire – and not only am I there, all these places are mine. But not in a possessive sense, in a connected sense. Yes, that’s imagination, appreciation and relation.
I tend to my own little half-acre of land as a steward of a living and significant being. Every tree and shrub and even the ground was damaged there (it was truly a “fixer-upper”), and I have husbanded the place, the lives there, the best I could for nine years, feeling frustrated yet being patient as I worked with very limited time and usually just the resources available on the plot. I put a lot of myself into it.
My personal connection to Smyrna, the land around it anyway, goes even deeper: into the ground, in my DNA, in time. I had ancestors in the area three hundred years ago. I know where they lived, where they are buried, what their homes looked like, and what they valued. I am connected to them.
Last night I saw the very beginnings of the eclipse. I went to bed at 1:00 am. The peak time was about 3:00 am. Two of my kids stayed up to see it. I’m glad of it even if they did freak a little upon hearing “a strange animal” and didn’t go back out at its darkest. It’s good to cultivate that connectedness with the whole universe. I heard that the last time an eclipse occurred on the solstice was 372 years ago, and I wonder who saw it and what they thought. I don’t have the time to dig into it, but I am interested. If I can have some understanding of what “they” thought then with a different set of precepts, I feel linked in and a part of the whole story.
My interest in astronomy goes a bit further than usual into astrology, but not the typical way. I’ve done research at various times on the Star of Bethlehem and on the Zodiac, and I see stories in the sky that are ancient – no surprises there – and may be interpreted as revealing great truths. To use an example from my area of study a while back: a writer of the New Testament apprehended a prophecy from the Old Testament whose original author knew no such meaning, and the community that valued both authors accepted – not blindly – the new interpretation without discarding the old, understanding it to be implicit all along. The oldest names of the stars (usually Arabic, from Semitic languages) hold deep secrets, and the apparent (from the earth) interaction of the planets with the stars at certain times and places have (I am going to say) “received” significant meaning. Just when people attached these meanings to the shapes and motions in the sky is beyond me.
Madeline L’Engle wrote novels connecting a fictional family with the vast reaches of space, the innermost – microscopic – recesses of the human body and mind, and the mysteries of persons, lovers and fighters, long dead and forgotten and yet still alive within us. These things resonate with me.
Yet, I don’t think about them all the time. That would be weird and out of touch. We are each responsible for that which impinges on us in the here and now.
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(Originally written Tue, Dec 21, 2010.)