Thank our lucky stars

I was wandering around some of the less frequented halls of UN building here in Vienna and discovered a moon rock. It was sitting in an obscure wing that I’d never before visited, on a pedestal encased in a hefty clear resin pyramid. The rock was about as big as my eleven year old daughter’s fist—Sparkly black with a barnacle-like gray ball of stony colored rock protruding from one side of the darker crystalline matrix. It seemed so ordinary and earthy. Yet there it was, a moon rock collected by James Irwin on the Apollo 15 Mission in 1971 from the edge of the Spur Crater. It’s a Lunar Highland breccia (what a magical name) and is 3,900,000,000 years old. Older than 99.99% of all Earth surface rocks. It may be the oldest thing I’ve ever seen up close. It was born only about 600 million years after Earth’s formation, lo, those 4.5 Billion years ago. I wondered what warranted the clam of extreme age. Something to do with the elements being stuck together in that form for so long I suppose. I mean, when I think of the carbon and oxygen that make up most of my body, they were forged in the great nuclear engines of an earlier generation of stars that lived and died long before the birth of our sun. But this particular configuration of carbon and things, my body, was pulled from the air surrounding our planet fairly recently. Plants used our sun’s energy to take the gaseous carbon floating about and slapped it together into something I, or my mother, likely found delicious and ate. It still amazes me that plants take the air around us and make things like sweet potatoes out of it (see recipes below!). What a cool thing for them to do. But thinking of old things this time of year has invited me to think about a new level of blessings that I should be grateful for. Maybe this Thanksgiving as you thank Heavenly Father for the food, thank Him for the earlier generation of stars that made the elements which would someday form you and those you love. Thank Him for the subsequent generation of stars, including our beloved sun, which power our home world’s verdure, which in turn renders that elemental carbon usable for us. And thank Him for moon rocks that remind us that this universe is old and He took some time in the preparation of this feast. Plus, when you give the Blessing on the food this Thanksgiving and say, “We thank Thee, Dear Lord, for the prior generation of stars that have provided the elements that will bless and strengthen our earthly bodies this day.” I’m sure you’ll get a couple of one-eyed glances for the break in the usual cadences of our grace.

Comments

  1. Excellent. As a way to commemorate our appreciation of the cosmic, look to the night skies.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    I appreciate this thought, especially since as a boy I was an astronomy geek. Thanksgiving, indeed.

  3. Great post. I’ve always been fascinated by space and the stars. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Nice post. Too bad it’s so unlike the scripture and temple creation accounts.

  5. Granted, Steve didn’t mention the pillars of heaven which support the dome from collapsing and flooding our world with water; however, I found it quite consistent with Mormonism and its scripture.

    Thanks for the wonderful post. Thanksgiving indeed.

  6. cahkaylahlee says:

    Last night, as I was trying to go to sleep, my thoughts were going in this direction. I wondered what would happen if the electromagnetic radiation from the sun was blocked. We would have the most incredible star show. I wondered what kinds of plants, if any, could survive from starlight alone. I wondered what kinds of crazy things would happen as the human population turned to chaos and pandemonium. I wondered how long animals would live and how cold it would get. I wondered what it would feel like if the sun just disappeared and we were no longer tethered by its gravitational pull. I wondered how we would feel the effects on earth. At the end of all this wondering, I concluded that I am very thankful for the sun.

    I like your post. When I was a kid, sometimes I would wonder if I had ever drunk the same water molecule. Then I would swallow my spit and wonder if the water in my cup contained a molecule drunk by Abraham Lincoln, or Davey Crockett, or Napoleon. Your musing expresses the awe of elemental recycling on a universal level. And (I think) it’s fun to think about.

  7. A lovely perception of the wonder-inspiring interrelationships of all things, Steve. Thanks.

  8. Your words took me back to a thirteen year old boy, mesmerised by the Nasal tones of Carl Sagan, on the TV series “Cosmos”:

    “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. ”

    “We are made of star stuff. For the most part, atoms heavier than hydrogen were created in the interiors of stars and then expelled into space to be incorporated into later stars. The Sun is probably a third generation star.”

    I have just had somewhat radical eye surgey for a degenerative genetic eye condition; over the years my personal comforting “proof” of a devine creator, the glorious southern night sky, has become a muddy blur.

    It is somewhat ironic for this post then that just last night I gazed at the stars of Orion and for the first time in many years could see this constellation with near-perfect clarity.

    I wept.

    I could touch the face of God once more!

    For some bizzare reason Australia has slowly started to adopt the foreign tradition of Halloween; I wish, instead, for Thanksgiving.

    Thanks for making me a little moe thankful!

  9. Make that “more” thankful!

    (The joys of trying to type on a small PDA touchscreen, with a two-year-old squirming on your lap!)

  10. And thanks for this post and the comments it inspired.

  11. Thank you so much for this post. One of the conditions bothering me when I lived in Utah Valley was the anemia of the night sky. Just a handful of stars had the umph to make it through the haze, glare, and light trespass. Even though I lived there for twenty years and knew my way around at street level, because of my physical disconnect from the sky, I always suffered low level irritation from feeling lost.

    I’m deeply grateful that now I live in a place having breathtaking dark skies views. In the spring and summer, I love to garden at night, in the dark-dark or by moonlight, and watch that wilderness of light and time swell into view, while the Woodhouses’ toads hop around my feet and the coyotes yip it up out in the p-j forest. Feeling that connection again cured what ailed me.

    It’s home, ceilingless top to floorless bottom. I do thank my lucky stars.

  12. KIm Reece-Lairson says:

    Here in INdiana while growing up, we watched UFOs at night along with the stars-weather balloons, angels,starships, but definitely UFOs. The starry skies are an incredible wonder. I am thankful for earth.

  13. These are such beautiful stories! Thank you one and all for sharing them. It seems a wonder to me how looking at and talking about the stars seems to bring out the best in us. I’ve had some of my best conversations under a starlit sky, and it appears true on in the Bloggernacle as well!.

  14. Some of my best memories from childhood are looking at the sky through my dad’s homemade 8″ Newtonian reflectors. A new family moved in across the street and got the city to install a garish bright street light. Life has never been the same since. I wish I could destroy that horrible street light.

  15. John Mansfield says:

    I am thankful there was once a nation capable of sample return missions and that a UN office in Vienna continues to benefit from the work of that former people, its glory now a third of a century past.

  16. Don’t worry John, both India and China are racing to get there. There will be a country (maybe two) capable of returning moon samples soon enough. They may even give us some.

  17. Nice post. Too bad it’s so unlike the scripture and temple creation accounts.

    Nice comment.

    Too bad the scriptural and temple accounts don’t attempt to negate science.

  18. The scriptures assert that all things testify of Christ.

    It is true.

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