Scottsdale, Arizona – It’s been a long time since I sat myself down to try to wrap a few words around the wonders all around me. I admit that I have been guilty of blatant busyness, but that was yesterday. Today is entirely different.
Life has slowed.
Deep thoughts linger longer.
Wonder has a chance to grow.
The entire world seems to be holding its collective breath as a tiny virus races across the globe, leaping from one host to the next with frightening speed and efficiency. Without the aid of some very powerful microscopes, we are not able to see this virus that has brought the world to its knees in a matter of weeks. Viruses are extremely small blobs of DNA or RNA wrapped up in a little coat of protein. If you could see the virus responsible for Covid-19 or any virus from the corona family, you would see tiny crown-like appendages covering the main body. The word “corona” means “crown” in Latin. What the Coronavirus Image You’ve Seen a Million Times Really Shows
We know that there is a parallel universe of microscopic organisms that not only coexists with the seen world, but in fact often forms the very foundation of it. For example, bacteria live in the intestines of humans and animals, where their presence inhibits the growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria. Bacteria is critical to the healthy functioning of our immune systems.
From food fermentation to agriculture, energy, manufacturing and more, we depend on the presence of tiny work horses to complete critical tasks most of us are totally unaware of. What else resides in the realm of the rarely or never seen? What wonders do we experience on a regular basis that find their essence in microscopic or invisible domains?
I find myself searching my space for wonders I missed in yesterday’s daily rush as a way to retrieve some of the patterns and rhythms that have now come to a screeching halt. As I look out my window, I am thankful for the light illuminating the land and I begin to ponder this beautiful substance that simultaneously warms us, provides energy and enables us to enjoy all things seen.
Light itself is a glorious mystery, routinely enjoyed without pause to wonder what it consists of and how it reaches us. What unseen forces are working to deliver these energy dense packets (photons) we call sunlight? One sunset can be gray and uneventful, while the very next evening might end with spectacular blood orange splashed across the sky. Something grand, yet invisible to our human eyes must be at work. What is going on?
It all has to do with the way light energy travels. It is hard to imagine, but visible light is one small slice of a an electromagnetic spectrum and moves in waves. Violets, blues and greens travel in short wavelengths, whereas yellows, oranges and reds move as longer wavelengths. In order for our eyes to see light, waves must pass through atmospheric molecules. Shorter wavelengths (violet, blue, green) have a harder time passing through these molecules and often scatter before they ever reach us. On the other hand, the long wavelengths of brilliant yellow, orange and red pass through those same molecules more easily.
Places like Arizona enjoy the added benefit of low moisture and pollution, which both tend to dull color. However, dust particles suspended in the air actually filter out some of the yellow light, allowing the deep orange and red light to paint the sky with spectacular displays of color. When the sun is low on the horizon, light must pass through significantly more particles, adding to the intensity of color we see. The icing on the cake comes as the evening light also reflects off the desert landscape, creating classic desert shades of purple and pink.
Daily, we see the result of things unseen working to provide the natural wonders we experience. There is no better time to consider the tiny forces at work around us, but also to ponder the invisible realm of spirit, faith and a world beyond this one. Just as the light streaming across the distant mountains speaks of things beyond our understanding, we all eventually feel an inner tug rooted in the big questions of life. Questions of meaning and purpose that dwell in the realm of things unseen.
As you track wonder, take time to track things unseen. Think deep thoughts and let them linger. Give wonder a chance to grow.
Cultivate Wonder… Discover Design
References and Resources
The study of visible light is fascinating. For a deeper dive, check out these websites:
- What is Light?
- livescience.com – What is Visible Light?
- explainthatstuff.com – Light
- sciencing.com – How does Light Travel?
Images: SPegany ©2020