At the heart of the up and coming Extremely Large Telescope they are building in Chile, there will be a mirror. That mirror that reminds me of a honeycomb. A rather large honeycomb, though, which is about half the size of a football field.
This curved mirror will be segmented, all 39.3 metres wide of it, and consist of 798 hexagonal mirrors, each 1.4 metres across and 5 centimetres thick. It will catch loads more light than is currently possible and be able to create images 16 times sharper than those of the Hubble. (Do these numbers not strike you as Biblical in the manner of Noah-like cubits, say?) This amusingly-poorly-named telescope (younger relative to its neighbouring ‘Very Large Telescope’) will enable some astonishing depth of vision, however. Astronomers will look further into space in more detail than ever before. Stretch your mind into this:
This telescope will be so powerful that it will collect enough light to look to the observable limit of the Universe – soon after the Big Bang when the first stars and galaxies formed.
I don’t really know what this means. Sometimes I get glimpses or fleeting dreams leave a taste.
I wonder: Do each of us have mirrors collecting light in our hearts? Is that what a soul is?
I was thinking about the glass.
The primary symbol of self-discovery, self-knowledge, contemplation and reflection is the mirror.
The earliest mirror known was water, in the surface of which the human saw her soul reflected. Like consciousness itself, the mirror possesses the capacity to reflect the actuality of the visible world.
I was daydreaming about the telescope, and light and seeing to the edges of the known, as I buzzed by a few silvery flooded rice paddies on an errand earlier in the week. How could I not think of Alice and her Looking Glass? What if, I thought, we could see a patchwork of rice-paddies from a bird’s eye view? Or, say, from space? Would they not look like eyes, too, mirrors or gateways? Who would take time to reflect at edges of these pools? Who would dare to follow Socrates injunction to ‘Know Thyself’?
Mark Miodownik writes of the reflexive relationships; I wondered about glasses and our sense of ourselves.
The material world is not just a display of our technology and culture, it is part of us. We invented it, we made it, and in turn it makes us who we are.
This is a lovely idea:
Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself.
Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies.
We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, its magnificence.
So is this:
Christ has no body but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion on the world.
Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which Christ blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes:
You are Christ’s body.
Christ has no body on earth but yours.
St. Teresa of Avila
And this, the simplest formulation:
We are a way for the universe to know itself.
This week, post-solstice, we are celebrating, serendipitously, the feasts of Corpus Christi and the Sacred Heart. Here, in the northern hemisphere, the very fullness of life is vivid around us.
May we know the body as temple and consent to shine the light that is uniquely ours to share.
Images: wiki commons