Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Grace notes

I've been looking for Comet Swan, so far unsuccessfully. The weather hasn't cooperated, and the ambient light in my town is a curse.

But so what? I've been outside in a mess of weathers when I might have been sprawled on the couch in front of the TV. The thing about looking for comets, even unsuccessfully, is that the mind and senses are both engaged. Let's see? Where will the constellation Hercules be at this time of the evening? Where can I go to view that part of the sky? What about the globular cluster in Hercules? In binocs, it should be a pretty good visual match for the comet.

The naturalist Henry Beston, author of The Outermost House, was asked why he spent a year alone on the Nauset dunes of Cape Cod. "Creation is here and now," he answered. "So near is man to the creative pageant, so much a part is he of the endless and incredible experiment, that any glimpse he may have will be but the revelation of a moment, a solitary note heard in a symphony thundering through...time."

He might have said that we are so much a part of the endless and incredible experiment that we hardly take notice of it. The creation is not something that took place 6000 years ago, or even 13.7 billion years ago. The creation is going on all the time -- the grand unfolding, the shaping, the complexification.

Meanwhile, up there above the clouds a dirty snowball makes a swan dive toward the Sun, anointing our mostly unsuspecting heads with an asperges of cometary dust. Lavabis me.