Since I was a little boy, one of my greatest fascinations has been outer space. I was just a little young to carefully follow the Mercury program, but I was fully connected with Gemini and Apollo and what followed. I saved box tops in 1969 and sent away for a set of bronze medallions commemorating the space program. I wrote my senior English paper on the proposed space shuttle. I have a silver tie tac that depicts the command module and the lunar lander from Apollo. I had a Major Matt Mason action figure, along with his entire space station. More recently, my sons gave me a surface insulation blanket that flew with the Challenger space craft on an earlier flight before it exploded. Just this last year, I ordered and built a Lego model of the Saturn V rocket, and the Apollo Lunar lander. I have definitely been hooked on space and all things about it for most of my 63 years.
Imagine my excitement this morning, as I perused various news articles online, when I came across an article on MSN about “FRB” -- fast radio bursts. I had actually heard about these before. They were discovered, or at least detected first in only 2007. Simply, it’s believed that radio and x-ray energy are emitted from a dead star – possibly a neutron star, which happens when a star dies, and the core packs its mass into a ball the size of a city. Most FRBs are “extragalactic” – from another galaxy, but one was discovered coming from the other side of the Milky Way (our home base). It’s believed it burst from a dead star about 30,000 years ago. Think about that number for a moment. It left that star and traveled 30 millennia, and then swept over the earth in less than ½ second. The FRB from the dead star generates more energy in that millisecond that our own sun produces in 100 years. Think about that power, that enormous energy. Some physicists believe they may come from a particular neutron star called a “magnetar,” with a powerful magnetic field.
Of course, one reason the FRB was discovered is that we humans have developed the equipment with the ability to actually listen for and hear a split-second burst of energy that is 30,000 years old. That’s almost as amazing as the phenomenon itself. More amazing is that most of this is speculation. Scientists if this field deal with theories, and then spend their lives trying to prove something they think might be true. We laypersons are then given the chance to have a tiny taste of knowledge to ponder.
“O Lord our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth! When I look at your heavens, the work of you fingers, the moon and the stars which you have established, what are human beings that you are mindful of them – of us – mortals, that you care for us?” Ps. 8.
On this Pandemic Friday, as more questions than answers swirl around our world as to how to deal with disease that not only kills lives, but kills normal, and kills different hopes for the future – it’s perhaps helpful and wise to recall Who is in charge.. Who used Divine fingers to create the stars, and Who is mindful of us. Of you. We indeed are not alone in this universe. God is with us, and with us far longer than a millisecond fast radio burst! Take comfort and strength today in that knowledge, and allow yourself time and space to ponder, to wonder, and to simply stand in awe of things beyond your control, and of the One who walks with you today and each day.
Word for the day. Propinquity. One of my favorite words – pronounced pro-PING-kwity, it means the nearness or closeness of one thing to another. What is fun about the word, is that it is used to talk about how physically close something or someone is to another (the toothbrush and the toothpaste shared a natural propinquity to each other), but it also used to talk about the nearness of agreement about a topic or an issue (there was an utter lack of propinquity when it came to the two parties and the impending legislation). It also can be used to talk about either the psychological or the emotional/romantic attraction between two people (one could easily witness the propinquity of the two lovers, both in terms of how close they sat to each other, and even how they shared one plate of French fries, all the while smiling).
The word comes from the Latin propinquus, “neighboring,” or prope, “near.” There is a verb form – propinquate (pro-PING-kwait), which means to approach. “He propinquated the young lady, careful not to scare her off,” or “Your Honor, may I propinquate the bench?” Unless you have a very learned judge, I might want to dissuade you from asking that question in court… the good news is, since it is still summer, we are in no propinquity to autumn.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.