It is Ash Wednesday. Today is Book Club, Ash Wednesday service, and choir practice. Also, of course, work, and the gym, and a couple of errands. But the most important thing on the to-do list today is contemplation.
Quantum Grace asks us to contemplate — deeply — the interconnectedness of all people and all of creation. The author begins by saying “We are stardust” and a person of my age cannot be expected to read those words without an immediate soundtrack of this song. And she does intend for us to take it literally. While I have been taking a slow stroll back through time with Richard Dawkins, Cannato prefers to leap back four and a half billion years to the time (give or take, as one of the creationist websites puts it with uncharacteristic whimsicality, six months) when all the matter and energy of the universe were created.
There hasn’t been any new matter or energy since then. There hasn’t been any new water since the first water was created. I once took a group of kids to a wastewater treatment facility, where they reminded us of this. We were drinking the same water that the dinosaurs drank, they told the kids. The kids did not want to drink any water for the rest of the day.
It is quite a marvelous thing to contemplate, though.
I stayed up late last night to finish Pride and Prejudice for Book Club today. If you click on the title, you will find the complete hypertext version of the novel. I enjoyed it enormously. Austen wrote this book in 1813. And, while the usual elements of a classic are there — a good story, good writing, an excellent observation of human beings — it is her wit, and yet her sympathy for her characters, even as she is being utterly scathing about their behavior, that makes this book so enjoyable.
#1 daughter and I were talking about it yesterday, and talking particularly about the fact that it still rings true in so many ways, because we are so much like the people she writes about. “Customs change,” said #1 daughter, “but people don’t.”
You cannot escape that when you read Jane Austen, or Shakespeare, or the Bible. (A customer yesterday said much the same thing of Dr. Seuss, but I am not sure that it is quite the same…. maybe…) They were all stardust, after all, as are we. And Jesus drank the same water we do, and was composed of some bits of the same store of energy and matter.
Do such thoughts lead us to a consciousness of our interconnectedness, and to changes in our behavior and attitude, or merely to avoid drinking the water? That is up to us.
Did you learn something new? Did you rise to a challenge? Did you take pleasure in the great community of mad men and women who did such a thing for fun all together?
If so, zip right on over to the Yarn Harlot’s website and pick up your medal.