Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We Are Stardust: Lessons from a Seventh Grade Chemistry Class

Tonight, as I sat in bed with my MacBook, logging end-of-quarter grades for my students, our 12 year old came into our bedroom and asked if I could look something up for him for Chemistry homework. At his request, I typed in "why is iron found in the earth's crust?" Here is what we discovered. "Every iron atom in existence, anywhere in the universe, was formed in the cataclysmic death of a supernova star."

In fact, Science Daily tells us "Every element on earth, except for the lightest, was created in the heart of some massive star." How is it I forgot we are made from stardust?

The creation of the Universe inextricably is linked to the creation of every human person, formed in the image of God. This thought comforts me tonight, after a long work day after which I wondered whether I am supposed to carry my students'  sorrows with me, like shadows. Instead, I now offer them to the Divine. Thanks to Christ breaking the boundaries of time and space, no division exists between the Reality in front of me every day and the presence of Another.

Tonight's evening prayer in my Book of Hours feels particularly apt. Here is an excerpt of Psalm 138.

Where shall I go, to escape your spirit?

  Where shall I go, to flee your face?
If I rise to the heavens, you are there.
  If I sink to the depths, you are there.
If I put on the wings of the dawn itself –
  if I make my abode beyond the farthest sea –
  it is still your hand that will lead me there,
  it is still your right hand that will hold me.
If I say “May the shadows cover me:
  let there be no light around me” –
the shadows will not hide me from you,
  and the night will shine like the day:
for shadows and light are the same to you.


  1. beautiful and ethereal . . . thank you for great post!

  2. Thank you for reading and commenting, Colleen!

  3. That's beautiful. A star died so we could live, so to speak.