Monday 20 October 2014

Inside the toolshed.

Photo by Michael Coghlan licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
I am the sort of person who asks a lot of questions. I always have. Not always out loud. Nowadays I mainly ask them quietly to myself inside my head (a very noisy place) since it is one thing to be a child who is constantly asking questions and quite another to be a grown up who hasn't learned to stop asking Why? How? What? and Where? I want to know!

If you were I (or I were you?), for one thing you would have hundreds of internal dialogues happening with yourself at any given moment... yes, even right now, and amongst the many, many discussions might be a rather simple yet obvious question:

Why would I call a blog "Just a speck of dust dancing in the Sonlight"?
And here is the reason, I read this:
I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.
  Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences. [C. S. Lewis, Meditation in a Toolshed, originally published in the Coventry Evening Telegraph (17 July 1945), reprinted in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970, 212]
By recording his observation of something completely ordinary and predictable that happens almost everyday in toolsheds around England, or at least in ones that have a crack at the top of the door, C. S. Lewis explained how I could understand my [Christian] worldview. For me it was a 'light bulb' moment.

Of course I realised that in order to see the trees and the Sun I must look along the beam - I must have the vantage point of a speck of dust floating within that ray of light. Translating this in terms of my faith: I know who God is because I can experience Him directly, and this influences the way I view and understand the world.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” ~C. S. Lewis

But there is also another way of seeing. It is a true yet different perspective that requires me to be the person looking at the sunbeam from the outside and watching the specks of dust caught in it. By stepping outside myself (as it were) I am able to see who I am in relation to God. Reality check...

I am almost nothing. I am like a speck of dust in comparison to the massive Sun. Astronomical, literally.

A few decades after Lewis' death, Voyager 1 proved this. On February 14, 1990, as part of its final photographic assignment the spacecraft turned around and took 60 images of Earth, the most famous of these is the picture below.

It is a snapshot of Earth taken from a distance of more than 6 billion kilometres and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane. Can you see it?

In the image the Earth is a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Our planet was caught in the centre of one of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the Sun.

A pale blue dot.
   A speck of dust floating silently in the vastness of the solar system caught in the light of the Sun.
      Almost insignificant.


Looking at the beam as an outside observer is a pretty humbling experience. I had never seriously thought of myself in terms of being dust. Specks of dirt. One speck of dirt. But, I needed to see myself this way. And then I rejoiced...

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust. ~Psalm 103:13-14

God remembers dust. We are dust. God remembers us. We are not forgotten.

Having looked at the beam, I must also look along the beam. I am free to float and swirl in the Light, for I know and am known by the Son...

Just a speck of dust dancing in the Sonlight

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