Monday, May 5, 2008

She's a well meaning and courteous neighbor... at least, from a distance. As we go about our daily business, she goes about hers as well. From a cosmic perspective, she's living and thriving just over the next-door fence; she's just beyond the treeline. From an earthly perspective, she's a mere 10,000 light years away.

Eta Corinae. Comfortably situated in the Keyhole Nebula in the constellation Carina, Eta remains one of the most massive and unstable stars in the known cosmos. And she has been gloriously captured on film by the Hubble Telescope over and over again (see below). The picture on the very left was captured by the Hubble Telescope just before 1996. This massive ejection of matter, this cosmic explosion occurred sometime between 1835 and 1845... and it's taken that long - 170 years - for the light to reach the planet Earth.

And while we go about our daily individual and collective business here on our rotating stellar sphere, Eta Corinae does what she does best. She simply shines. The science and astronomy communities estimate that Eta Carinae is one the brightest stars in our known sky, radiating at an intensity that is 4 million times brighter than the Sun. Yes, you read that correctly. 4 million times brighter than the Sun and approximately 150 times larger as well. It's surface temperature is estimated to over 29,000 degrees C. That's approximately 5 times hotter than the surface of our neighboring Sun.

Why do I share this bit of cosmic trivia with you today? Because most likely we all find ourselves, from time to time, uncomfortably (and sometimes, unconsciously) in our own psychological or emotional rut. We wake up each morning to the same face, same situations and same routine. It may not be exceedingly good or bad. It's just what we know. It's what we're used to in our daily existence. But all along our daily journey, there always remains a tiny gnawing in the back of our mind, in the back of that daily routine, that there should be and is more to this Life.

I recently found myself in this very place; this uncomfortable and unconscious rut. I couldn't place two coherent sentences together into a collective thought. I couldn't seem to glance up from my daily calendar of family activities to simply ponder. That is, until I came across Eta Carinae. Eta has existed, just beyond the realm of our awareness and our knowledge, long before we even knew to look to the skies. And she will outlive us all. She is, however, burning her nucleur fuel at such a rapid rate that even she is estimated not to survive longer than a few million years. Astounding, isn't it? The awareness of her existence and all that we are still unaware of in our world and cosmos puts our petty grievances and our worries about tomorrow or next week and our anxiety about our daily journey into a whole new realm of powerful perspective.

Perspective. Whether it's cosmic, planetary or personal, perspective can lead us out of that personal rut and into a new path, a greater understanding of our place and calling in this glorious and wondrous Life. Brushing elbows with Eta Carinae (even from a few billion miles away) would instantly annihilate all that we have come to know and become as a species on this tiny little stellar speck. And the same could be said about Eta, if she should encounter a black hole. And yet, we all seem to wonderfully coexist in this ever expanding universe. None of us lesser or greater than one another (whether human or radiated matter). None of us more less or more important than one another in the great mystery and journey of Life.

My friend, we've been blessed to be given ringside seats to this great unfolding and revelation of Life. We just need to remind ourselves to glance up from our daily planner - from time to time - and look upward. And look inward. Whether we realize it or not, we ultimately create our personal rut and we can choose to remain in it or accept the the invitation given freely to each of us: to live a life that radiates at a similar intensity as our neighbor Eta Carinae.

Take time this week to look heavenward. Marvel and speculate at the happenings in nearby and distant galactic neighborhoods. Then take that wonder and rediscover the marvel and speculation that lies before you as your Life.



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