Yesterday, driving around town, I settled into a comforting blanket of technical pleasure: Spotify and Google Maps gracefully shared the BMW’s speaker system. The air-conditioning was leveling off at a precise 72 degrees. “Traffic is delayed along your route,” computer-girl announced, and re-routed me. The Tokens paused for a moment and then soared back up to cruising volume with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” I pondered something the SCI channel told me the other day: when the Hubble telescope went into orbit there had been a small dark area of space that no telescope had ever explored; it turns out that in that pea-sized piece of darkness, there are not only a few stars, but billions of galaxies coming into high resolution. I voice activated the phone, told my contact I would be about five minutes late, and as the Tokens exulted in the peaceful village sleeping, I took mild satisfaction in being master of the new technology, since I’m klutzy by nature and warring gadgets can unnerve me. I felt served by them now. My 35 minute trip, air-conditioned, set to music, traffic-aware, shepherded by micro-circuited hearing aids that have restored my failing senses — it all announces a world of stunning beauty and complexity. I shiver at its enormity.
I am fifty-seven years old and the universe remains largely unexplored. I know just about nothing. I even take pleasure in re-learning what I have forgotten. Someone mentioned the Peter Zengler case the other day. All I could remember is that I should remember, but my ignorance of detail seemed of no consequence, since the Library of Congress sits next to me on my Galaxy 8 Plus, wrapped as it is now in tailored Italian leather, delivered up by Amazon in two days from across the world.
I take this all in and then a notion pierces the mental slumber with cold-water clarity: two thousand years ago, a Man sat by a well and told a loose, proud woman he had come to save the world. He had food to eat no one knew about and water that could make you live forever. The woman ran off, gob-smacked by the encounter. She left her jar. She told the whole village. “This guy knows everything I’ve ever done!” The Man by the well had made a meal of her, and all the village with her. They were His harvest.
Every corner of the universe, every story, every yet-to-be-revealed invention of genius, every miserable cracked wagon wheel on every pioneer’s thirsty journey across the desert is pulled together by and dependent on this central promise. God came into the world — and He promised a way out of it. Someone actually claimed to be the Author of this here universe.
The next time the technology, or the weather, or the cancer, or the music rattles you, or soothes you, no matter what..
That seems to be the central reality worth pondering, sir.