Half asleep, he wondered whether that might not have been his happiest day ever, the last, perfect day swelling with the immensity of his secret intent, secret creation-the day before everything changed-the day before he realized, for the first time, yet with absolute finality, just how small his private immensity really was when measured against that other vast, dark, impersonal immensity, call it God, or history, or simply life.
Rather than seeing ourselves as insignificant specks in the immensity of the cosmos, we can consider that immensity an indicator of our worth. It seems the Creator invested a great deal-a universe of 50 billion trillion stars, plus a hundred times more matter, all fine-tuned to mind-boggling precision-for us. If not for the strength and abundance of evidence in support of that notion, it would seem the height of arrogance. Humility demands that we take a deeper and wider look at that evidence.
When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of space of which I am ignorant, and which knows me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there, why now rather than then?
When I consider the small span of my life absorbed in the eternity of all time, or the small part of space which I can touch or see engulfed by the infinite immensity of spaces that I know not and that know me not, I am frightened and astonished to see myself here instead of there ... now instead of then.
It is completely incomprehensible to us how God can reveal himself and to some extent make himself known in created beings: eternity in time, immensity in space, infinity in finite, immutability in change, being in becoming, the all, as it were, in that which is nothing. This mystery cannot be comprehended; it can only be gratefully acknowledged.
It is altogether reasonable to conclude that the heavenly bodies, alias worlds, which move or are situate within the circle of our knowledge, as well all others throughout immensity, are each and every one of them possessed or inhabited by some intelligent agents or other, however different their sensations or manners of receiving or communicating their ideas may be from ours, or however different from each other.
A source of cheerfulness to a good mind is the consideration of that Being on whom we have our dependence, and in whom, though we behold Him as yet but in the first faint discoveries of His perfections, we see everything that we can imagine as great glorious, or amiable. We find ourselves everywhere upheld by His goodness and surrounded by an immensity of love and mercy.
When one has let go of that great hidden agenda that drives humanity and its varied histories, then one can begin to encounter the immensity of one's own soul. If we are courageous enough to say, "Not this person, nor any other, can ultimately give me what I want; only I can, " then we are free to celebrate a relationship for what it can give.
Astronomy is useful because it raises us above ourselves; it is useful because it is grand; .... It shows us how small is man's body, how great his mind, since his intelligence can embrace the whole of this dazzling immensity, where his body is only an obscure point, and enjoy its silent harmony.
Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists.
Although we know nothing of what an atom is, yet we cannot resist forming some idea of a small particle, which represents it to the mind ... there is an immensity of facts which justify us in believing that the atoms of matter are in some way endowed or associated with electrical powers, to which they owe their most striking qualities, and amongst them their mutual chemical affinity.
My heart, the bird of the wilderness, has found its sky in your eyes. They are the cradle of the morning, they are the kingdom of the stars. My songs are lost in their depths. Let me but soar in that sky, in its lonely immensity. Let me but cleave its clouds and spread wings in its sunshine.
I am an artist. And An artist is simply a man who is pulled along by a river: on one side sanity lies, and the other madness, yet he will find no peace on either, as the current of his art drags him away from the everyday life on it's banks, where others watch, unable to help him until he reaches the immensity of the ocean.
Felix J. Palma
Armed with all the powers, enjoying all the wealth they owe to science, our societies are still trying to practice and to teach systems of values already destroyed at the roots by that very science. Man knows at last that he is alone in the indifferent immensity of the universe, whence which he has emerged by chance. His duty, like his fate, is written nowhere.
In the immutability of their surroundings the foreign shores, the foreign faces, the changing immensity of life, glide past, veiled not by a sense of mystery but by a slightly disdainful ignorance; for there is nothing mysterious to a seaman unless it be the sea itself, which is the mistress of his existence and as inscrutable as Destiny.
Only look to Jesus. He died for you, died in your place, died under the frowns of heaven, that we might die under its smile. Regard neither unbelief nor doubt. Fear neither sin nor hell. Choose neither life nor death. All these are swallowed up in the immensity of Christ and are triumphed over in His cross.
If we consider what science already has enabled men to know-the immensity of space, the fantastic philosophy of the stars, the infinite smallness of the composition of atoms, the macrocosm whereby we succeed only in creating outlines and translating a measure into numbers without our minds being able to form any concrete idea of it-we remain astounded by the enormous machinery of the universe.
It is difficult to grasp the immensity and significance of the extreme reverence paid to the Goddess over a period of (at least) seven thousand years and over miles of land cutting across national boundaries and vast expanses of sea. Yet it is vital to do just that to fully comprehend the longevity as well as the widespread power and influence this religion once held.
For that half-hour in the hospital delivery room I was intimate with immensity, for that half-minute before birth I held her hands and for that duration we three were undivided, I felt the blood of her pulse as we gripped hands, felt her blood beat in the rhythm that reached into the baby as she slipped into the doctor's hands, and for a few days we touched that immensity, we saw through her eyes to an immense intimacy, saw through to where she had come from, I felt important being next to her, and the feeling lasted when we entered our car for the drive home, thinking to myself that we weren't to be trusted with our baby, the feeling lasting while I measured us against the landscape, the February rain, the pewter sky, and then the rain freezing to the roadway, the warmth of the interior of the car with its unbreakable transparent sky dome and doors, until the car spun on the ice in the lane and twirled so that I could take an hour to describe how I threw up my hands in anguish as the baby slipped from her arms and whipped into the face of her mother reflected in the glass door, and she caught the baby back into her arms as the car glided to a stop in its usual place at the end of the drive, and nothing but silence and a few drops of blood at a nostril suggested that we would now be intimate with the immensities of death ("Interim")
William S. Wilson
All goes to show that the soul in man is not an organ, but animates and exercises all the organs; is not a function, like the power of memory, of calculation, of comparison, but uses these as hands and feet; is not a faculty, but a light, is not the intellect or the will, but the master of the intellect and the will; is the background of our being, in which they lie,--an immensity not possessed and that cannot be possessed.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What a strange world it is where you can have as much sex as you like but love is taboo. I'm talking about the real thing, the grand passion, which may not allow affection or convenience or happiness. The truth is that love smashes into your life like an ice floe, and even if your heart is built like the Titanic you go down. That's the size of it, the immensity of it. It's not proper, it's not clean, it's not containable.
One ship is very much like another and the sea is always the same. In the immutability of their surroundings the foreign shores, the foreign faces, the changing immensity of life, glide past, veiled not by a sense of mystery but by a slightly disdainful ignorance; for there is nothing mysterious to a seaman unless it be the sea itself, which is the mistress of his existence and as inscrutable as Destiny.
Immensity is always there, but we so often become numb to it, or deceive ourselves into thinking our own lives and selves are what's large. Step into the ocean or walk on Mount Tamalpais, and that kind of amnesia and self-centeredness isn't possible. Enter the natural world at all, you see existence emerge, ripen, fall and continue, and you can't help but feel more tender towards self and others. That summoning into the large and the shared is what poems exist also to do.
If man merely sat back and thought about his impending termination, and his terrifying insignificance and aloneness in the cosmos, he would surely go mad, or succumb to a numbing sense of futility. Why, he might ask himself, should he bother to write a great symphony, or strive to make a living, or even to love another, when he is no more than a momentary microbe on a dust mote whirling through the unimaginable immensity of space? ...
Through the din and desultoriness of noon, even in the most Oriental city, is seen the fresh and primitive and savage nature, in which Scythians and Ethiopians and Indians dwell. What is echo, what are light and shade, day and night, ocean and stars, earthquake and eclipse, there? The works of man are everywhere swallowed up in the immensity of nature. The AEgean Sea is but Lake Huron still to the Indian.
Henry David Thoreau
I put back my head, looking up at the deep black sky swimming with hot stars. If you knew they were really balls of flaming gas, you could imagine them as Van Gogh saw them, without difficulty... and looking into that illuminated void, you understood why people have always looked up into the sky when talking to God. You need to feel the immensity of something very much bigger than yourself, and there it is - immeasurably vast, and always near at hand. Covering you.
Each of the major sciences has contributed an essential ingredient in our long retreat from an initial belief in our own cosmic importance. Astronomy defined our home as a small planet tucked away in one corner of an average galaxy among millions; biology took away our status as paragons created in the image of God; geology gave us the immensity of time and taught us how little of it our own species has occupied.
Stephen Jay Gould
The sight filled the northern sky; the immensity of it was scarcely conceivable. As if from Heaven itself, great curtains of delicate light hung and trembled. Pale green and rose-pink, and as transparent as the most fragile fabric, and at the bottom edge a profound fiery crimson like the fires of Hell, they swung and shimmered loosely with more grace than the most skillful dancer.
For me, walking in a hard Dakota wind can be like staring at the ocean: humbled before its immensity, I also have a sense of being at home on this planet, my blood so like the sea in chemical composition, my every cell partaking of air. I live about as far from the sea as is possible in North America, yet I walk in a turbulent ocean. Maybe that child was right when he told me that the world is upside-down here, and this is where angels drown.
Then all at once in late August's heat, tall leafless stalks crowned with iridescent pink and purple blossoms burst from the purgatory in the earth. This arcane act of nature, though perceived by us as ordinary, is a manifestation of Maya's phantom play, the great immensity expressed in every way. My garden is the universe. I am the universe. I am my garden. All things are the same.
For such will be our ruin if you, in the immensity of your public abstractions, forget the private figure, or if we in the intensity of our private emotions forget the public world. Both houses will be ruined, the public and the private, the material and the spiritual, for they are inseparably connected.
Love is universal. You don't have to tell somebody that loving is better than hating. You don't have to believe in God to know that stealing is bad. All of God's children and their different faiths help to realize the immensity of God. No faith contains the whole truth about God. And certainly Christians don't have a corner on God. All of us belong to God.
In fact, since the accident, Mom doesn't love anyone. She is marble. Beautiful. Frigid. Easily stained by her family. What's left of us anyway. We are corpses. At first, we sought rebirth. But resurrection devoid of her love has made us zombies. We get up every morning, skip breakfast, hurry off to work or school. For in those other places, we are more at home. And sometimes we stagger beneath the weight of grief, the immensity of aloneness.
Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos. Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain - from cosmology to psychology to economics - has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture. Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence. The rest is self-deception, set to music.