Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Black Holes and Revelations (Never Stop Dancing)

I was at a memorial recently for my dear great aunt Audrey Isabel Jones, 87. It was not tragic, but it was of course sad. Under the circumstances, it was so good to see family.

The reverend was a delightfully military-looking old English ex-pat in Niagara named Jeff Davison. I have the utmost respect for this man.

I am an Athiest. I capitalize the word because it is a title. I firmly believe that there is no god to believe in. All of this means I walked into my Aunt's memorial service with prejudice in my heart. I assumed that a tiny chapel in an old funeral home that was there in Niagara before the vineyards would be run by compassionate if not curmudgeonly Christians with whom I share nothing in common but this earth. I could not have been more wrong.

Reverend Davison closed the service with a sermon that caused my Physicist brother and lapsed Catholic father and I to make triple-head-turning eye contact with one another. How often does a priest at a funeral bring up how our perception of the laws of nature, math and physics has evolved to our modern understanding and that our thirteen-plus-billion year old universe was obviously big-banged into being by God?

My father said he can respect any man who is reasonably trying to reconcile a belief in the supernatural with a scientific understanding of nature. I replied that it sounds like he has reconciled.

Reverend Davison tried, somewhat stumblingly to marry a metaphor about my Aunt Aud's love of dancing with ever-changing landscapes and celestial physics. He pulled it off. He said that if you fall out of time, out of step, you will not be able to follow the rhythm of life. Fear not death for the universe is teeming with life. We are all stardust anyways.

One day the music will stop, followed by a moment of silence. That silence could be the blink of an eye, or many billions of years. It does not matter, because the music will start again.

Never stop dancing.