A few weeks ago I wrote about The Gravity Of Wonder and how we are all tethered to a relationship with it for the rest of our life. This theme had me pondering upon the way gravity works & the deeper question of what just might be the greatest gravitational force in the universe today. Do you know what it is?
The most substantial gravitational force in creation is surprisingly not the sun. Nor is it the largest planet you can find in a solar system. The most powerful gravitational force actually comes from what is known as a black hole. I found this remarkable as I looked deeper into the workings of gravity and how it functions.
First, the easiest way to understand gravity is that the bigger the mass of an object (planet, moon, star, etc.) the greater force it will impose on the object's it is in relationship with. So, while the gravity of the earth stays constant at 9.8 m/s2, the people on earth can weigh differently and feel heavier depending on the mass or size that they are. If that same person were too travel to the moon, their mass will still be the same but their weight will be much less because the moon's mass is smaller then the earth's and therefore does not have as much gravitational force.
Black Holes however, work in what seems like a completely opposite fashion which is why it is mesmerizing to think it has the greatest gravitational force. Virtually nothing can escape there powerful gravity once you are caught in it; not even light itself can escape its pull.
Steven Hawking presented the theory of Hawking's Radiation using Quantum Physics as an explanation for how Black Holes work. It is the idea that for every particle of mass, there is an equal anti-particle of energy. Rather then accumulating great amounts of mass or material, Black Holes rather pull particle's toward its centre until the forces literally cancel each other out or obliterate, rejecting the matter back out into space while taking away the anti-particle into itself. In essence, it must reject all material existence for there to be room for the energy or force.
Recently I was listening to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks as he described the Jewish nature of God's kodesh, or sacredness. In essence, God's holiness is so perfect to our existence that, in Jonathan's words, "nothing physical or material should be able to survive for even a moment in the presence of the pure, absolute Being of God." [Click Here For Source]
So, in order for God to find relationship with his creation, he must find a way to mask or give into an understanding of "self-limitation". This is what the Jewish language calls the chol or the space in which God "empty's" or gives space for the physical universe to exist.
The relationship between kodesh & chol is one where in a relational turn, humanity also makes space, or empty's our sense of self will & desire so as to create room to act in God's will, and not our own. It is rather radical to think about it this way & counter cultural to the focus of North American individuality but, our existence & identity's are far less created by our own will's & choosing then we often think. As the psychologist Dr. Matthew Lieberman describes, “The world is filled with such laugh tracks and other contextual cues because our brains are designed to be influenced by others. Our brains are built to ensure that we will come to hold the beliefs and values of those around us... We might think that our beliefs and values are core parts of our identity, part of what makes us us. But, as I’ll show, these beliefs and values are often smuggled into our minds without our realizing it... The self is more of a superhighway for social influence than it is the impenetrable private fortress we believe it to be.” The very nature of human self-identity is in the willingness to express self sacrifices for the sake of making space, so that other's could find relational contact to & with ourselve's.
As I write this, our family & neighbours are celebrating Easter. I couldn't help but visualize the metaphor of black holes, God making space, and humanity's consciousness to the other as it relates to the Easter story & Paul's words to the Philippians, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Phil. 2:5-8)
It seems that the wonder of Easter transcends the very acts of Jesus as being humanity's commissioning participation into the story of a social salvation based not on any one individual, but the collective works of all in the course of time. As Vincent Donavan describes, "We have condensed all the hope & dignity & power & glory of Christianity into the narrow confines of a single individual. This is an obvious distortion. To remedy that distortion of Christianity we simply must move in a different direction, without abandoning the substance of Christianity in the process. All & everything that we believed about the priest is true - as true of the Christian community as it is of him. It is not so much that priests must decrease, as that Christians must increase."
The power of the cross is felt not just in the sting of one's own death but also in the thousand cuts we experience over the course of a life lived self sacrificially for the sake of others. Yet it is also these small deaths that a shared resurrection of life is experienced between two beings as they are brought together in reconciled relationship. Salvation is a story told not just in the past or in the eternal hopes of what is to come, but the celebration of experiencing the wonder of divine presence being with us, & within us all today & always.