My friend Leslie Carbone posted this graphic on Facebook today.
It’s a great reminder about life and our significance. It’s a great reminder on a week that has the Boston Marathon bombing, the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, Ricin laced letters mailed to Washington and Tax Day all rolled into one.
Our problems seem huge to us, and in perspective they are. But in the grand scheme of things, we’re just that little dot. A hundred years from now our problems won’t matter. Not even to us.
I once gave a devotional talk using this passage from Doug Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
The Universe, as has been observed before, is an unsettlingly big place, a fact which for the sake of a quiet life most people tend to ignore.
Many would happily move to somewhere rather smaller of their own devising, and this is what most beings in fact do.
For instance, in one corner of the Eastern Galactic Arm lies the large forest planet Oglaroon, the entire “intelligent” population of which lives permanently in one fairly small and crowded nut tree. In which tree they are born, live, fall in love, carve tiny speculative articles in the bark on the meaning of life, the futility of death and the importance of birth control, fight a few extremely minor wars, and eventually die strapped to the underside of some of the less accessible outer branches.
In fact the only Oglaroonians who ever leave their tree are those who are hurled out of it for the heinous crime of wondering whether any of the other trees might be capable of supporting life at all, or indeed whether the other trees are anything other than illusions brought on by eating too many Oglanuts.
Exotic though this behaviour may seem, there is no life form in the Galaxy which is not in some way guilty of the same thing, which is why the Total Perspective Vortex is as horrific as it is.
For when you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little marker, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says “You are here.”
Admittedly, this was to the Alumni Board of my University when I was serving as President.
I got some strange looks. But here’s the Scripture that fits:
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
We are indeed small and insignificant.
Except to our Heavenly Father.
In the midst of evil and chaos, that’s a great thing to remember.