The quieter you become, the more you can hear. Anonymous
I read a report the other day that suggests there are more black holes in the universe than was previously thought. For those who are as scientifically non compos mentis as I am, a black hole is simply what’s left when a star of a certain size and mass explodes and collapses in on itself. I suspect there are Hollywood types who fit this description, but what I am talking about are the ones far, far away.
From what I understand, the nearest black hole to earth is about 1,600 light years away, so the odds of getting sucked in anytime soon are astronomically small.
The interesting thing about a black hole is that it is so dense even light cannot escape it’s gravitational pull. Hey, I’ve preached sermons that remarkably resemble that remark! Scientists cannot actually observe black holes (because of the aforementioned gravity problem). According to a NASA website, scientists infer their existence from “the effect they have on other matter nearby.”
Isn’t that a great description? I believe there are more black holes on earth than people realize. I suspect each of us is a complex assortment of black holes in motion. There are things in our lives that have collapsed in on themselves and become invisible to the naked eye, and yet they’re still there manifesting their effects in a variety of ways.
Some problems are fairly inconsequential and leave hardly any signs behind. There was the papier mâché cow I made in second grade and of which I was especially proud. After all, it’s not unusual for me to have a cow every now and then, but this was the real thing and quite accurate in its depiction of a real life Guernsey. It had a prominent place on display atop the refrigerator, and must have sat there for months. It served as a reminder to drink milk for strong bones.
One day I came home and noticed the cow was missing. Not just “the” cow, but MY cow. I asked my mother where it went and she told me, “I threw it away.” Unspoken, but in the silence I could hear her add, “it was ugly.” She often tossed out my sacred cows without discussing it first.
Now, on a scale ranging from being pelted by marshmallows to being nuked, this was definitely on the marshmallow end of the scale, and yet it is a pin-head sized black hole in my heart. I know, because of the way it affects me.
I snarl at people that ask to borrow a pen. It’s not like I don’t already have about half a million pens of every size and sort scattered around the house (half of which quit working some time last century).
Notice I said “that ask …” instead of “who ask …” That tiny detail tells the careful reader that I have depersonalized the beggar. It was a subconscious choice I made.
I take full responsibility for the choice, by the way, but I also know that tiny black hole was the proximate cause of both snarl and word-choice. There is a gravitational pull at work; one may not see the darkness, but the effect is readily available to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
The fabric of our lives is covered with many events like that. None of this is unique to any of us, but common to all of us.
I think Jesus knew that. “Let the one who is without sin (i.e. a black hole) cast the first stone.” He became a human shield for a woman with plenty of holes in her life and invited the community to look at their own lives first.
The solution to so many problems, you see, is to acknowledge there’s a problem to deal with in the first place, and the source of the problem isn’t what we see, hear, feel, or experience around us, but the constellation of black holes swirling in our heads, hearts, and memories.
“Let go and let God,” says the happy twelve-stepper, but it is easier said than done. Like scientists, we need to quietly examine the effect the black holes are having on us and those around us and accept there is a solution in this, our valley. I’ll talk about that next time.