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NASA James Webb Space Telescope – Deep Field Image SMACS 0723 – July 2022
Galaxy cluster as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago
Photo Credit: Webb Telescope (NASA)

This is the first in the series of my reflections on the “shifts of being” proposed by Jem Bendell in Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos (UK/USA 2021).

On July 12, I watched in wonder at the first full-color images of Deep Field Image SMACS 0723 recorded by the NASA James Webb space telescope. I am nothing amidst the thousands of galaxies in just a tiny patch of our vast Universe. Among the estimated two trillion galaxies in the observable Universe, our own Milky Way Galaxy extends for about 100,000 light years across. Such vastness boggles my mind, considering that one light year covers 5.8 trillion miles (9.5 trillion kilometers). Located in the Orion Arm, our Sun is just one of 100 to 400 billion stars caught in its gravitational spiral.

Planet Earth, my home, is a mere rock revolving around a life-giving star. The more our space telescopes reveal the secrets of our Universe, the greater the mystery of the dark matter and dark energy that fill the emptiness of space. We humans are nothing but stardust. I am humbled. 

NASA’s Annotated Image of The Milky Way Galaxy
Source: NASA
Our Sun lies near a small, partial arm called the Orion Arm, or Orion Spur, located between the Sagittarius and Perseus arms.

Dark energy fascinates my curious mind. What role does this mysterious, invisible force that occupies about 68 percent of our Universe play in our nature as living beings? Gravity, another invisible force, not only maintains our planet in orbit around the Sun, but also keeps us grounded to Earth’s surface. Without gravity, we would all float out into the vast, cold, and dark space. Is dark energy the connecting force between all life on Earth? Is dark energy the spirit that animates our physical body, giving us life? So many mysteries yet to be revealed.

The mysteries will be revealed in the fullness of time, Child of Earth. It is Mother Gaia who speaks. You think of yourself as separate from nature, but all are connected. Land, sea, and sky are all connected. All is One. Your well-balanced and interconnected world pulsates with cosmic energy. Billions of years in the making. You act like the gods of your creation, but you are still infants in the vast expanse of time and space. You know not what you do when you play with the wind, rain, and fire. Take heed, Child of Earth.

Video: Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot (3:26 minutes)