Each time I view the deep-field picture of Andromeda, I FEEL a sense of awe and wonder; yet those words are insufficient to describe such a deep awareness of the magnitude of the Universe. It is an embodied experience as my left-hemisphere awareness struggles to grasp that which is beyond comprehension. That said, there is something about the EXPERIENCE of noticing our relative place in the universe that begins to touch upon God and Mystery. The only word that begins to capture the experience of viewing Andromeda is INEFFABLE - too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. Take a moment to EXPERIENCE this image below:
Notice that my words – FEEL and EXPERIENCE - suggest that we grasp the ineffable in our bodies. This isn’t too far-fetched considering that human bodies are literally made of stardust. We possess a connection to all that is just as much as we maintain our individuality as human beings on this Pale Blue Dot. As John the Scot discussed in the 9th Century, it is through God/Mystery/that which is beyond human comprehension that we are able to reconcile the irreconcilable…this is “ineffable harmony.”
Our bodies are deeply aware of that which resides in our subconscious mind. The problem is that it is often dismissed as trite, irrelevant, or a problem to be fixed. We look at our bodies through a compartmentalized lens, rather than viewing bodies as a connected whole – each part connected to one another and each body connected to all that is in the Universe and beyond. We therefore miss the innate knowing that is held within every cell and made manifest through subconscious awareness; but because the thinking mind can’t understand or comprehend the ineffable, it is deemed incorrect, wrong, problematic, or even non-existent.
Interestingly, it is through the symbolic (often visual imagery, music, and other forms of art) that we access innate wisdom. The symbolic evokes FEELINGS, which then allow us to begin to grasp that which is beyond our reach.
Viewing an image like Andromeda provides a tangible image of the ineffable. Like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon or viewing the Mona Lisa in person, symbolic imagery helps us access our embodied subconscious awareness. As I see it, this is among the great challenges of the present moment. How do we embolden human beings to both notice and give value to the internal experience as a means of growing in awareness of the Divine?
Images like Andromeda have the potential to create a pessimistic view as we come to realize just how small we really are in relationship to the cosmos. Yet, our innate curiosity keeps us exploring the Earth, while looking to the Universe for new discoveries. Science provides many answers to our questions, but it is in the questioning that we find God (Tillich). Questions therefore become individual acts of self-transcendence that put our focus on the future, where the constant unfolding of Mystery is before us.