Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Waiting Into Wonder

Posted by reader_iam

Because, as Robert Browning wrote, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp -- or what's a heaven for?"
...This power would seem to argue that Reason should be trusted in all things, that the intelligence that runs up and down the synapses of our brains in an endless flickering web of electo-chemical space-time events is the ultimate arbiter, the final judge, the self-obsessed lodestone of our lives. And yet....

And yet we sense there is something more going on here, unfolding all about us, no matter how sternly Reason rules. We sense, no matter how many times we are told the opposite, that myth, legend, soul, magic, miracle and mystery still hold us, and that

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,*

And that,

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.*

And that, as we now move more deeply into Advent, we move -- in our long sweeping orbit about our home star -- closer to the moments when that which is most deeply our gift and our curse is made manifest in the music of our being in a manner beyond all reason. And no matter what our faith -- even if that faith is that there is no faith to be had -- this turn of the year, this Advent, will inexorably bring us once again to the memory of the miracle.

The excerpt doesn't do the essay justice, and I hesitated including it for that reason. The linked post is beautiful, and full of wonder, and tolerant, and accommodating of a breadth of POV starting points--at least if read by those who tend to read with a generosity of spirit.

And it brought to my mind the wonderfully quotable Albert Einstein, no stranger to either science or mystery, much less to humility:
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious - the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

Scientists were rated as great heretics by the church, but they were truly religious men because of their faith in the orderliness of the universe.

How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?

Wondrous, indeed.