Our TV hasn’t been working for about eight weeks now, but no one seemed to care much. There has been plenty to keep us busy and on quiet evenings we sit a while in the garden and sometimes the kids make a fire.
Last night was date night but I didn’t much feel like going out. Sometimes you’re full up on food and drink and tired of the outside world. You part with money and share your space with a bunch of strangers, when all you really wanted was a little time alone.
Andy managed to get the TV working whilst I finished my sewing. We perched on the single bed, put in the TV room for the summer whilst Peter is home. We had Magnums and a smokey inch of single malt and watched documentaries from the BBC. In these days, where the future of the public broadcast service is up for discussion, we got to enjoy a little awe and wonder, of universal size, right there in our own tiny TV room, watching the Sky at Night we saw the New Horizon mission bringing back the first flyby pictures of the dwarf planet Pluto. It brought tears to my eyes, an invitation to share in their moment, such accomplishment and so much surprising beauty. We can see a magnificent 7.5 billion kilometres away! It would take light over 4 hours to travel that far and the numbers are much too big for me to imagine the size of the space we share.
At John Hopkins, as the first pictures were about to be received, a hush fell on the auditorium. The space craft is moving much too fast to be stopped now, it has already received the commands that everyone hopes will result in a series of photographs. New Horizon is 12, 500 kilometres away from the Pluto and there are only a few short hour in which to get this right.
Holding up phones to capture the moment, the image of the planet fills the screen. Realisations, moment on moment, filter into the room. There are whoops and embraces and signs of pure exhilaration, un-inhibited displays of bliss. The mission, entirely successful, has delivered something beyond expectation and reasoned responses are rendered void. This gorgeous, multi-textured silver globe of a planet, floats on a backdrop of deep unknown space and every detail is illuminated for our eyes to see. This is a glorious side of science that no one expected when they took on the job.
The auditorium rises in a spontaneous applause.
A single unanimous act of joy.
These people are crazy drunk with delight.
We sit in our little TV room and listen to caffeine fuelled scientists, wired and bright eyed from too little sleep and too much awe. For in the bright regions on a the distant planet, by the icy heart of white, they see exotic ice flows and strange mountains rise a mile upon mile above the plains. And they do not know how this can be, ice as hard as rock and geological activity in the quiet, dead regions of outmost space.
Just a few days ago I to sat in another small room with strangers and friends and after a bring-and-share meal we came together to pray. A guitar strummed somewhere in the background and a few unremarkable voices begin to sing. Babies, just fed, nestled to sleep and there were toddler footsteps and the noise of children playing out in the hall. We hadn’t been at it more than a minute and everyone knew, the presence of God was filling the room. A gift for that moment, all for us, you couldn’t make it up. Such love brought so close. Some people knelt and others stood. Why would we not whoop or embrace or rise in spontaneous applause? I’ve seen it all, a life spent amongst crazy charismatics and holy Joes, people who see God and spill over, well up, crash down loud, knocked off their feet. We’re crazy with delight, a unanimous response to miracles much bigger than the room we are in. Astonishing.
As in days of old, in our days now: such wonder, so much surprising beauty, so many gifts.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2).