The heavens appear to be too complicated for a simple reflection. All of the matter, energy and elements that make up what is millions of light years away can hardly be comprehended by us tiny human beings. Yet, their complexity is exactly why they are perfect for a simple reflection.
Thomas Merton in writing about The Rule of St. Benedict in his book Initiation into the Monastic Tradition writes extensively about our false sense of self. Our false sense of self is what causes us to think that our whole essence is about knowing everything, being comfortable with everything and/or being approved of, etc. While the technological advances of the last decade are nothing short of miraculous; their detriment is in how much they can aid us in being entrenched into our false sense of self. The remedy that St. Benedict offers us, Thomas Merton tells us, is in Chapter 7 of The Rule, on humility. Humility is about seeing ourselves as we really are, and living more deeply into a bonded relationship with God and others. This kind of humility is to help us to learn that even in the midst of conflict and difficulty, our one constant reality worthy of our devotion and reverence is God.
The heavens show us the glory of God that is in our darkest moments, through which the beauty and wonder of God’s will for us shines through in both small and great ways. We may not be able to name every item in the heavens, but what we are able to see helps us know that we are not the center of the universe. In fact, we are one very small being. Yet as the Psalmist writes:
“When I look up at your skies, at what your fingers made–the moon and the stars that you set firmly in place–what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them? You’ve made them only slightly less than divine, crowning them with glory and grandeur” (Psalm 8:3-4 The Common English Bible).
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB