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quarta-feira, 3 de novembro de 2010

You are the Miracle!

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

With these words, the ancients chose to begin a story, a story of creation. There was nothing initially, only God. There was no space, no time. God then created the cosmos. The entire universe was the size of a grain of sand. Small and extremely hot. And now, look all around us! We are not a miracle - we are the miracle!

Since I was a kid, when I look at the night sky I try to imagine what aliens would think of us and of our world. I look at the stars in the sky and get uneasy when I imagine I'm not seeing the stars, but the light sent from them some thousand years ago. You are there in the present, looking into the past, worried about the future. At least that's what happens to me.

Until a few years ago, I used to feel almost overwhelmed when thinking of the universe. When I thought of time and space, I mean. After all, we are the product of about 13.7 billion years of history. Have you ever imagined that amount of time? Nearly fourteen billion years! I’m only thirty-two, and sometimes I already feel very close to what they call old age, now imagine the Universe. The distance that separates our solar system from the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, is 26 thousand light years. And the distance that separates our solar system from our closest neighboring galaxy (Canis Major) is 25 thousand light years. Are you able to picture that distance? We would have to travel with the same speed of light in vacuum, ie, 299,792,458 meters per second, for twenty-five thousand years to reach Canis Major, or twenty-six thousand years to reach the center of the Milky Way. It is an inconceivable amount of distance and time for my imagination!

What about the Universe? Just think that until the 1920s humans thought that the Milky Way was the entire universe. Within the Milky Way we have between 200 and 400 billion stars. And today it is estimated that the Universe is composed of between 30 and 50 billion trillion stars, arranged in 80 to 140 billion galaxies. The most distant object we can see today is a quasar (a rotating black hole fed by matter) which is about 13 billion light years away - or rather, was there 13 billion years ago. Just thinking about it is fascinating and perplexing!

Compared to all this time and all that space, we seem irrelevant. Seem. But actually, I think we have an undoubted importance. After all, we do not know of any other beings who can think about these things as we do. At least, not until now.

The ancients, who had not the knowledge of the universe we have today, found poetic forms to explain their place in time and space. They found a room for the Mystery, and gave it a name: God. Today, many people think that there is no room for that Mystery. I disagree.

I can not explain what life is. I can not explain what love is. I can not explain the joy I feel when I learn more, when I write a song, or hug a friend I have not seen for a long time. I can not explain the pain I feel when I lose someone close, when I see pictures of victims of wars, or when I see a friend suffer. I can not explain the anger I feel when I hear speeches that incite violence and intolerance, when I see people being treated as if they were of no importance. These things are a mystery to me, I mean feeling what I feel, and explanations generally given about it is not enough to relieve my thirst for an answer. These things have a relationship with that inexplicable Mystery, with that Presence I call God.

We all have an incalculable value. Absolutely everyone. No matter the mistakes we have made. No matter if we don’t fit what others expect of us. No matter if we don’t have what others have. No matter if we do not look as the famous on TV. What really matters is that we are human and as humans we share a past, present, and a common destiny. We walk together, spinning on the same planet, in the same galaxy, in the same cosmos.

You and I have a guaranteed place in the history of our Universe. Our joys, our pains, our loves, our confusions, our doubts, our encounters, our disagreements, our music, our words, the melody that accompanies us during our very short physical existence, and the melody which will accompany the memory others will have of us when our existence comes to an end; all of that defines our importance in the Universe - in time and space. So do not feel less, nor small. You are not small. You are not less than anything. You are the miracle - the miracle which began more than 13 billion years ago, the miracle that will continue for longer. No matter who you are or where you are on your journey of life. No matter what you did, or how you are now. You are the miracle. You are the miracle.

Rev. Gibson da Costa - speech to the youth of the Unitarian Congregation of Pernambuco - Saturday, October 30, 2010.
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