Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked in an interview with TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the universe?” His answer is three minutes long and well worth a watch. Click here to do so before reading on:
Last Sunday, Smiling Flower, Granny and I went to a deaf friendly church for the first time. We sat on the left at the front, right by the interpreters who signed everything that went on with real skill and emotion. Smiling flower was awestruck to be in the presence of such proficient signers. I was firmly shaken from holding her hands, even her arms, so I held her hips whilst she stood doing a little ‘i’m so excited’ jiggle as her own small hands flew around furiously, trying to keep up with the lady she was watching. The concentration and pleasure on her face was immense.
During one of the worship songs some flag wavers also appeared. Normally such exuberance would send me running for a monastic and silent retreat. But as I watched Smiling Flower, she was again mesmerised by the beauty of the shimmering pale gold silk that was flying through the air. The colour reminded me of a sunset I once saw in Portugal. I was standing on a cliff edge, looking out over an unusually calm Atlantic ocean – a liquid gold reflecting the setting sun. And here in deaf church, watching all the activity through the stunning blue eyes of my daughter I was able to momentarily put aside my struggles and blind spots and prejudices and see the world, what those with faith call creation, come alive for one of the most important people in my life.
In those moments, at the tender age of two and three quarters, I believe Smiling Flower felt connected, relevant, a participant. Just like the astrophycist suggests we all can. Whether this was just within the church or whether she also felt that in relation to God – I don’t know. Maybe one day she’ll be able to tell me.