Friday, February 7, 2014

Swan Songs

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. …What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”   Job 38:4-7

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:1,2

Really smart people who study astronomy and physics talk about supernovae and black holes and star songs. I recently read that dying stars write their own unique death symphony. A swan song, per se.

This week I’ve contemplated that idea as I’ve met with a multitude of various clients in our health centre. An elderly woman with haemoptysis (coughing up blood) now told she has HIV. Three women with their hopes crushed when ultrasound revealed their baby was dead inside. Infant referred to a bigger hospital just barely hanging onto life. Assault. Trauma. Addiction…. So many stories.

Like the innumerable stars and their singular, soulful songs, each human is a unique creation – an intricate conglomeration of cells and genetic make-up that form a human being. Even if these matchless works of art crumble and fall apart prematurely, they too leave behind a legacy. A ghost of memories, however faint and haunting.

When a supernova begins to decay in it’s last few light-years, it will spin and pulsate in such a way that it radiates brighter -- intense luminosity. Are there parallels in the human generations? Many great writers, artists, and musicians crafted glorious creations and lived short lives. Did all their brilliance cause them to crash and run out of fuel too soon? Unborn babies that die before they are born, are they so full of intense potential that their death is inevitable?

Life is a cycle of births and deaths – coming and going. In death, gifts of knowledge are left behind to be absorbed by the next cohort. Building blocks upon which to expand the world’s information storage banks. Tools to potentially discover a cure for a deadly virus or invent teleportation. In death, both humans and stars release the elements of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, fertilising earth and outer space. Giving back to enrich the next generation.

With the right “ears” each star’s death melody can be heard. Tales of violence and brilliance are expressed. Expansion. Contraction. Cooling. And, finally, an ending explosion. Likewise, old or young, sick or healthy, pale or dark, every human has a voice and a vivid saga to be told. If we will listen, we may come to understand these legends of stellar magnitude. Not legends like Hollywood dramas. Legends composed of millions of sparking moments. Holding a hand when comfort was needed. Writing a letter of warm friendship. Making a phone call. Sharing a smile. Spending time together. The little notes in each life add up to a unique melody – and at the end – an opus is unveiled. Trailing stardust upon the winds of change.  A eulogy. A swan song. Their voices echo from the skies – every song – every star -- every person.

“When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?”
Psalm 8: 3,4

“God who is eternally complete, who directs the stars, who is the master of fates, who elevates man from his lowliness to Himself, who speaks from the cosmos to every single human soul, is the most brilliant manifestation of the goal of perfection.”   ~ Alfred Adler