The Gift of Insignificance

Big Calvin

Last week, while waiting for my son to fall asleep, I came across a news article announcing the birth of a star. Chilean astronomers had captured new images – multicolored gases exploding light years away, signaling the start of stellar existence.

I looked out the window and saw a full moon holding vigil over my own nocturnal watch.

I do not respond to the night sky like little Calvin, who is defiant when confronted with his minute place in the universe. No, I read a lot of Madeleine L’Engle growing up. I learned from the author of A Wrinkle in Time that every speck of creation is significant, from a mitochondrion to a supernova. I believe, like her, that these are connected, and that when one particle is failed or foiled, consequences are felt all over, affecting patterns within the tapestry of creation.

In that earlier, less hectic life, before I became the mother of small children, the night sky was a source of revelation. It placed me back into a very reassuring perspective. The stars and the moon would remind me that we, in this life, are not the center of the universe. We are, thankfully, a mere speck in an unfathomable expanse of stars, moons, planets, atmosphere.

In the last week that I was pregnant with my son, the moon had waxed. A few hours after he was born, I looked out the bedroom window and saw a full and clear sphere hanging alone in the night sky. I heard the words, “I am with you.” Since, then, it has become my symbol of safety. For God is majestic and remarkable. The earth, the moon, supernovae, white dwarfs – these are all a witness to his nature, character and love of creation. Yet God is also a parent to me, my husband and my children. He is responsible for the gift of humankind and our feeble, relatively insignificant lives on this temporary planet. Still, we are precious and honored in his sight, as it says in Isaiah 43. Some books earlier, in Psalm 139, he says he was with us in the womb. He is the God of the moon and God of the womb.

As a mother of three children under six years old, with another on the way, I used to have more time to “be still and know.” At the end of the day, I am all too eager to crawl into bed and close my eyes. Yet every now and then, as my husband joins me, I am blessed with this renewed, horizontal view of a handsome, loving, smiling man hitting the pillow on the other side. I see the thirteen years we have known each other in one instant. He is the strapping, gorgeous exchange student I fell in love with, who floored me with his interest and affection, who chose me; he is the beautiful, able, matured, young father of our happy, healthy, hectic, loving brood. I think to myself, am I lucky or what?

It’s like that with the moon now. I don’t have the time to contemplate the night sky as I once did, much less the gift of my insignificance. If I manage to stay awake in the chair by the window, I might look out. I might be surprised by the moon. I am then quite grateful to remember: “I am with you.”  

© 2013 Anastasia Hacopian


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