a far grander marvel than our galaxy

‘Having read recently that there are more neurons in the human brain than there are stars in the Milky Way, and having read any number of times that the human brain is the most complex object known to exist in the universe..’

I have been reading  (or struggling to read) a few essays from ‘When I was a Child I Read Books’ by Marilynne Robinson.

This paragraph in particular reminded me of my dad who has always been in awe of the workings of the human brain.  Later Marilynne Robinson writes:-

‘If we are to consider the heavens, how much more are we to consider the magnificent energies of consciouness that make whomever we pass on the streets a far grander marvel than our galaxy?’

And that little paragraph reminded me of what my friend JM had written the other day about listen(ing) to your life.

Maybe reading a blog, book, poem, listening to music, appreciating art and the many other ways human beings express themselves is like looking up at a beautiful starry night and considering the heavens?

You appreciate just  that little bit more that each human soul is a deep mystery and maybe you start singing ‘How Great Thou Art’ or something? For if you’re going to consider all the works Thy Hands have made you can’t leave out people, and you can’t leave out yourself.  You’re a marvel, I’m a marvel as well.

Often I stare up at The Plough or Orion and wonder at them being so far distant and yet so beautiful. (There is that melancholy again!)
Yet whoever I pass on the street is an even grander marvel than our Milky Way.

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2 thoughts on “a far grander marvel than our galaxy”

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling through that Marilynne Robinson collection! It’s full of good stuff but not as gentle a read as the title suggested.

    I really appreciate your thoughts here. I think sometimes the influence of the “I’m-just-an-unworthy-worm-of-a-sinner” kind of theology stops us from marvelling at the wonder of what it means to be human.

    Your reflections brought to mind something I was riffing on recently in a sermon – I hope it’s not too self-indulgent to quote myself!

    “You are not just a bundle of atoms and molecules, chemicals and cells. You are much more than that. You are a thinker and a dreamer, an artist and a poet and a storyteller, a lover and an adventurer, a child of God and a temple of the Holy Spirit. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are this strange combination of physical and emotional and intellectual and relational and spiritual, and all of it is connected. You are a wonder.”

  2. I never remember throwing down a book in before in frustration, but I did it last night. Too much work for too little in return I reckon!
    You’re right. We look at birds, vegetables, ships in harbours, Irish countryside, good food and beer etc and wonder at the handiwork, but when it come to humans the handiwork can get overpowered by the ‘we are sinful worms’ thing. I’m not sure its right can see more wonder/beauty in a blue tit than a human!

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