This is an excerpt from a recent sermon.
I grew up in a Mississauga suburb during the seventies of star wars and disco dancing, learning the metric system on new blue rulers.
In Art class, we were taught rug hooking on cushion covers and macramé plant hangers.
In grade six we learned another great folk art – String Art.
You take a piece of wood, cover it in felt, and then hammer nails into it.
You then wind brightly coloured crochet thread around the nails weaving a pattern. I used a grass green felt, then wound bright pink, yellow and orange thread – it was the seventies – around the nails to create a webbed circle with an empty centre.
The string art lived on a shelf in my bedroom for years as a bright and joyful weave of colour.
It is only now, with the string art itself long gone, that I realize that image – the webbed circle – has stayed with me, evolving from a goofy grade six art project to a symbol of my religious orientation.
The web of connection is the way of the universe.
We are all connected.
The universe is an endless series of connections –all the elements of life in dynamic interplay.
Moons orbit planets, planets swirl madly around suns,
solar systems whirl into galaxies, and galaxies coalesce into groups.
It is all, we are all, in glorious motion.
As a family we like to camp. When it gets very dark my son and I will head off to an open area. Then we lie back and look up into the night sky covered in stars. It is always so beautiful. It also reminds me of just how small I am.
I am small compared to our planet.
Our planet is small compared to the gas giant Jupiter.
Jupiter is small compared to our sun.
And our giant blazing sun is tiny compared to the Red Giants.
We are a speck on a speck on a speck of dust in comparison to the rest of the universe.
Looking into the starry night, looking out into the mysteries of the universe, I can feel we are tiny and insignificant. It is awesome in the original sense of the word – inspiring awe and dread.
It is both terrific and terrible, humbling to be such a tiny little part of an immense whole.
And it is also wonderful.
To know that as small as we are, we are still part of the whole.
We belong to it deeply, dependently.
Not just as part of the web of ecology where we live.
We are part of all of it, earth, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe, the whole enchilada.
Almost all the atoms in our bodies were born in the heat of a star billions and billions of years before we were born.
The stars are our ancestors, the root of our family tree.
Stars as ancestors. Imagine that. Joni Mitchell was right,
we really are stardust. We are stardust.
We are golden. This is scientific knowledge.
This science doesn’t diminish the mystery and beauty of the world,
it deepens it. My skin, my blood, my flesh, is made of atoms born 13 billion years ago.
So is yours. We are, as astronomer Carl Sagan said, starstuff contemplating the stars.
We are all connected. The universe is a web of connections.
Contemporary Unitarian Universalism attempts to live out that understanding of connection between all beings.