EACH STAR HAS A field of energy that is going both outward and inward. The outward energy we call a “wind” because it is unseen and “blowing” outward from the star: it is the light, itself, actually. If you can see the star you are “in” the wind from that star. Our star, Sol, being closest we are in this wind the most, of course. There are eddies and cross-currents, and shadows, if you will. It would be possible to “sail” on this wind. In fact there are designs for such ships: they are as beautiful and graceful as sailing ships on our seas. As much as there is outward, there is also the inward energy which we call gravity. The mass of the star literally curves space and pulls things towards it. Again: if you can see the star’s light, the gravity is also present. Sol’s gravity is closest to us and affects us the most, but all objects have gravity so the gravity from our nearest neighbor, Luna, has a heavier pull on us. Gravity – although it holds everything together – is a weak force and it is made weaker by distance. Light and wind go much further.
Every once in a while a star’s gravity might “catch” a passerby, even millions of miles away and that object begins a long journey inward, towards the star. If the item is small it may – eventually – just get pulled into the star and consumed in the fire. If the item is a bit larger and moving fast enough, its velocity and trajectory may take it around the star and shoot it back out into space, only to slow down later and come back for the same trip. This might take millions of years to complete, but the same process will repeat. As it comes in, pulled by gravity, the solar wind will push off bits and pieces. The object will, over much time, get smaller and smaller. Eventually it will not be able to escape the star again – and it will get pulled into the fire. Else, it may – somewhere out in space – just disconnect from the gravity, get pushed away in the wind, and never come back. If the item is frozen, covered in some gas or liquid, it may melt at high speed, throwing off a tail of reflected light and so, instead of an asteroid, we have a comet. These things may pass us, here on Earth, as we go on our own way and we see them and smile, gaze in awe, or make a wish. We, too, are held in place by gravity against the solar winds, our home’s size, trajectory, and speed keeping us just where we need to be to live.
Now, let us consider the comet and the star, as a sign of the soul’s journey to God.
For this image, though, God would be the only star in all the universe. Yes, we have other things that we think are stars, but they are not really stars at all. As the comet gets closer in love, the tail is all that is superfluous blown away – think of confession, the struggle for virtues, the acts of self-sacrifice, the withering of the ego. Each time the comet circles closer, losing its speed and trajectory, and the orbit grows smaller. The away and return gets shorter. In the end, all refuse jettisoned, it falls into the fires of eternal love.
And even for far-distant things, the choice is only to ride the gravity in or to let the solar winds blow one into distant eternities away. Coming closer means the fires get hotter, the winds stronger. If the soul holds on to anything here, she will be blown further away. She must let it all go, let it all go, let it all go behind as she falls closer and closer to the star. And she is a she, passive, drawn forward, as the star is a he, the active drawing forth. With God, the entire cosmos is she, passive before the one active mover of all.
There is a further realization, for God is everywhere present, filling all things. There is not “distance” from God: there is no center. There is no place towards which the gravity draws or from which the winds blow. That a soul is not flooded with fear at the light, or blown apart by the wind, that a soul is not burned instantly, and still must move forward to see more is, itself, an act of grace. God has hidden himself that he may be found. He woos us, but we must allow ourselves to be wooed. God’s action of withdrawal is the opening for us to follow. His hiddenness calls us to find him. His fading light in the distance becomes the dawn of our faith and that faith becomes the light for others. “Just as it is better to enlighten than merely to shine, so is it better to give to others the fruits of one’s contemplation than merely to contemplate.” (Summa Theologiae, II-II Q. 188, A. 6)
We live and move and have our being in the star, yet the darkness, too, is real: as the comet moves forward, the refuse burns away and the light is more revealed. God is love. And we are nought but loved, even in the fire that cleanses us. And the refuse, itself, becomes our glory for we leave a beautiful passing.
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