Science hymn

This has been written for Ely Cathedral’s Science Festival (May-June 2017).  The tune is Love Unknown.

Praise for the depths of space,
its endless scope and scale:
in such a vast embrace
our words and numbers fail.
For what are we,
that mortal mind
should seek and find

Praise for the rules that show
the patterning of time,
creation’s ebb and flow
expressed in reason’s rhyme.
Can these great laws
contain our awe,
a formula
for wonder’s cause?

Praise for the complex codes
each spiral strand conveys,
as chemistry explodes
to life in myriad ways.
Can we compare
what’s ours alone
if we are known
by all we share?

Praise for the drive to know;
from human nature springs
a need to learn and grow,
to understand all things.
Yet wisdom’s prize
is never won:
from all that’s done
new questions rise.

Praise for the gift of sense,
for touch and sights and sounds,
for all the tastes and scents
with which Your world abounds.
For love made known
in every thing,
in praise we sing
to You alone.

Love Life Live Lent Week 2 – Thursday – awe and wonder!

Today’s action was probably my favourite so far.

The 1960s Roman Catholic theologian, Karl Rahner, theorised that human beings are created with an innate longing for that which is just beyond our reach – we strive (intellectually and spiritually) for something that is always just over the horizon, so that our existence is a constantly dynamic journey towards what turns out to be God – the ultimate ‘beyond the horizon’ and yet the creator who made us with the very yearning that makes us seek him….

Apologies to those who know far more about Rahner than I do for that rather brief generalisation. It’s rather hard to read Rahner, but at its simplest his God-centred anthropology and his view of life as a continuous journey rings true to many people.

Today’s action in Love Life Live Lent invites us to embrace that innate longing, to follow that desire for more understanding and for more questions.  It invites us to become more child-like, opening our eyes to see the universe afresh, it’s vastness, complexity, and beauty, and to expand our knowledge, our experience, or just our capacity to stop and stare at something amazing.

I did today’s action together with Holly, who is preparing for confirmation, and Daniel, my ever-curious son.  We looked at the very wonderful website to find out what the biggest and smallest things in the universe really are. We discovered some units of measurement that we didn’t even know existed, and we saw numbers with too many zeros to count (hence needed new units of measurement!). We learned why no matter how big a telescope we build, we’ll never be able to perceive the whole universe. And we contemplated the idea of a Planck Length – the smallest thing that makes any physical sense. We marvelled at both how big and how small we are, somewhere in the middle, as human beings.

Later I read Psalm 8 and was awed all over again.

I remember writing an essay in my finals Old Testament exam which asked about the relationship between maternal imagery for God and the development of monotheism. The best answer I could come up with then or now is that when you really need to affirm the idea that there is only one God and that God not only cares for you and your own nation, but created the entire universe in all its splendour and majesty and vastness, you also need to affirm that that same God is not so big and so mighty that she can’t also love you like a mother. It so happens that the Creator-God imagery brings both sides of this together.

And yes, when I think of that it does make me stop and think and wonder…