Last week my wife and I went to a play that was entitled “Silent Sky”. It was about a young woman in the early nineteen hundreds who was in love with astronomy. She had managed to get a job with the astronomy department at Harvard but her hopes of being a part of the team that would learn new things about the stars were quickly dashed as they assigned her to a female pool of workers that did the grunt work while their male counterparts got to look through the telescope and get all the glory. In spite of this the young woman was able to show by her work that she had discovered that our milky way galaxy was just one of billions of galaxies. Her work opened up the age old questions of how big is this universe? What is our place in it? Who is behind all of this? Do we mere human beings, such small specks in all this immensity, really count?
While this young woman was fighting to find her place and use her gifts in a world that didn’t want to recognize her, I was struck by the other story line of how important the love of her sister was to her to give her the strength to go on fighting her battles. From beginning to end the love of her sister was the anchor that kept the lady astronomer going until her efforts were recognized and she knew she had fulfilled her purpose.
I share this synopsis of this play because as I was standing in the lobby I heard my name being called. I turned around and there was a man that I had met in the cancer center. We had talked together dozens of times over the past few years. He is running out of options for treatment and is doing his best to remain active and enjoy what time remains to him. Like the lady astronomer in the play he is a man who is intensely interested in learning and exploring and pushing the boundaries of knowledge. He has turned away from the strict religious upbringing that he learned from his parents but the more he has learned about science and the mysteries of life the more he has come to wonder just how big is all of this? What is my place in all of this? Does someone up there really know me and love me?
As we greeted each other and he told me about how he was going to fly out to the west coast to see some old friends I thought about the bonds that had developed between us because of all of our conversations. I have come to love this man and he has come to love me. It is my hope that he will come to see that the God who loves us both is present with us in our conversations with each other.
When I see him again in the cancer center I am looking forward to talking about the play with him to see if he also saw how love played a part in the lady astronomer’s quest for meaning and purpose.
May all of you also see God’s hand at work in your conversations with people under your care. In casual conversations, going to a play or sporting event, in whatever context we might find ourselves there is always a chance to say something to someone we care about that will show them that in the midst of all the immensity of this universe and all the chaos and seeming randomness we are known and loved and have a place and a calling.