Rocket Man, Starman, Life On Mars, I Am I said. Songs of my youth. Songs of identity, that interior aspect of me which reaches for the beyond. I am captivated by Voyager 1, the probe sent into space on September 5, 1977, five years to the day after I entered religious life and on the very day I returned to the community, having been away for more than a year.
Back then I had no knowledge of Voyager but we have somehow been travelling together these 40 years. There are journeys and journeys, I like to say. For every journey we undertake there is a deeper, spiritual significance that we are not always aware of. I have been a voyager, a wanderer pilgrim in spirit all my life – making journeys of significance and mostly journeying into the interior space of who I am; who I am in relation to others and mostly who I am in relation to God. My Mother called me Siddhartha, the nomad.
Voyager 1 has become a kind of teacher to me, a teacher of what is beyond. The sheer immensity of its journey! When it was launched, it had an initial mission of about four years, after which it continued on an extended mission that brought it to inter stellar space, the first human made object to travel that far and it has left scientists amazed that it still works. It travels at about 60,000 kilometres per hour, having travelled a distance of over 13 million miles. If it keeps travelling it will reach what is called the Oort cloud in 300 hundred years, taking it another 30,000 years to pass through it!
Voyager has been witness to the vastness of the universe; the sheer scale of it is staggering and it leaves me gasping in awe. And if the creation is so immense, then how much more immense is the Creator, how staggering and awesome! This is what happens to me when I read the first lines of the Prologue in John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) and it is there that I always have to pause and from there my meditation takes off into the awe-inspiring magnitude, the wonder of what it was like in that “beginning”, which is not a beginning at all but infinity, eternity.
In the beginning there was silence, that great silence in which the Word was begotten, the Word through whom everything came into existence. Silence! Jesus says of himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22:13) The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Aleph which corresponds with Alpha and Tav corresponds with Omega. Aleph is soundless, silent, suggesting that Jesus is the silence in the eternal beginning before being the spoken Word that gave birth to the creation. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And God said…” (Genesis 1:1-3)
How deep are the rich mysteries of God; how inadequate language is – the words we use to express a reality that is so far beyond expression. And yet within each of us there is an innate need to reach out and grasp something of God.
So I contemplate the great silence that is infinitely more expansive than the distance travelled by Voyager. I contemplate who God is in that reality. For compass and guide I take flight with Voyager and I am immersed in the Bible, the sacred Word of God that is alive and active with layers of deeper meaning, unfathomable depths. “I thought of my God and I sighed!” from Psalm 77 – Blessed Pope Paul VI identifies this as summing up the whole Prayer of the Church. To pray is to think of God; to think of God is to sigh with groaning beyond utterance which is nothing other than the prayer of the Holy Spirit within us (Romans 8:26).
Above the moon and stars
Beyond the edge
Of what is known
The space between all things
The quiet dark
The womb of light
Where speed and stillness merge
And distance has no measure
A thousand years
A single day
Is all the same
Where Love And Hope and Faith
Remain pure and perfect