The Scientific Aesthetic

Lightning Storm Over the Grand Canyon Copyright by Rolph Maeder, Photography Sedona

Lightning Storm Over the Grand Canyon
Copyright by Rolph Maeder, Photography Sedona

#weekendcoffeeshare 9/17/16

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how I wanted to be a scientist since about the age of ten or eleven. Unlike most children who declare a vocation at such a young age, I never lost sight of the goal and did indeed become a scientist (now retired).

But the other day I was thinking about what it was that kept my dream alive from childhood to fruition as an adult. I mean how many young kids who say they want to be a fireman actually do it? What I realized was that I had an abiding wonder and fascination with all of the mysteries of nature. Science was a tool to reveal its secrets.

As a young boy, I wanted to explore many and varied aspects of the natural world and science. For a time I was an avid mineralogist. I made many expeditions into the creek bed behind the apartments where I lived. My holy grail was to find a geode; I never found one but found some petrified wood instead. I was disappointed at the time, but years later realized how cool and unusual that find was.

I had an inexpensive microscope and peered into the previously unseen details of all sorts of things from hair to bugs and leaves. When the Russians launched Sputnick in 1957, the first satellite, I became fascinated with rockets and space travel. Yes…of course, I fabricated my own rocket. It was a unique home design made from an aluminum pipe with balsa wood tail fins and a crude fuel made with chemicals in my chemistry set. Back then the sets included the components needed to make gun powder—oops.

I realized in retrospect that my design was badly flawed— more like a dangerous firework than a rocket— but it did manage a few flights of maybe 50 feet up before the aluminum could no longer withstand the blast. Thank God my brother and I had the good sense to run like hell when the fuse was lit!

As time went on, I began to develop a pantheistic view of the world. My vision moved beyond practical, objective aspects of my surroundings to a more aesthetic appreciation.

Into middle age, my relationship with science and nature became more inspirational and spiritual, and less investigative. Rather than study and analyze nature, I wanted to experience it. Rather than simply being a refuge from daily life, the natural world became a celebration of the diversity of life—something sacred to be revered, loved, and protected.

Thus, I have come full circle; once again I have that innocent sense of wonder and I am amazed and thrilled by the incredible beauty and complexity of the natural world around me, just as I was as a young boy growing up.

You might like to see the following related articles:

Just So…

The Golden Morning

Nature: A More Expansive Spirituality

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The Light Inside You

Copyright 2013 by Blair Atherton

Copyright 2013 by Blair Atherton

 

On the occasion of the first year anniversary of this blog site I am republishing a verse I wrote a long time ago and that was one of the first entries in this blog. It likens our spirituality to rays of light that we too often shut away. And having hidden our spirit-self deep inside, it continually seeks release and expression.

The Light Inside You

For only a few fleeting moments
Have I felt the warm light of you—
Of what is inside of you.

Those moments were like rays of light
Peeking through the cracks of a door
In a dark room.

I am in the darkness alone,
Longing to know
What lies on the other side of the door.
Yearning to feel the touch
Of the warm and beautiful
Light that lies there.

But the door is locked,
The key to its opening
Unknown to me.

I will wait—
Yes, wait patiently
For the next beam of light
To spill through the cracks.
Longing to know
To understand
To embrace
The wonderful light
That shines inside of you.

Copyright 1969, 2012 by Blair Atherton

It is my belief that no matter who you are, what kind of a person you are, or what kind of life you live, there have been moments when your spirit was able to squeeze through the cracks in the walls you may have built around yourself. The fortresses we build to protect ourselves are always flawed and conquerable from within and without.

Our spirit-selves, that some of us try to hold captive in the darkness of our fears, doubt, and insecurities, yearn—no demand expression. It is like trying to hold your breath until you pass out; you cannot do it. Similarly, no matter how hard you try to cling to the material world and deny your spirituality, your spirit will always seek to show you a better way.

If you accept the notion that your spirit is what gives you life and your spirit-self is the real you, then you can see that your spirit must be allowed to express itself. Otherwise, are you really alive?

I believe that we are all spiritual beings. We, and those around us, look for evidence of this in us and in themselves. They are searching for the warm and beautiful light emanating from others and hope to find within themselves. Perhaps we do not realize that all we have to do is open the door, even if only a crack at first.

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Many thanks to those of you who have consistently followed my blog over the past year.  This blog exists purely to serve its readers. I hope that those who are relative newcomers will continue to find value in what is written here, and if you have not already done so, explore articles in the archives.