Saturn: Catalyst for Spiritual Growth

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Do you remem­ber when you start­ed to ask the big spir­i­tu­al ques­tions; the ones which kept you awake at night? For me spir­i­tu­al growth began in the night light of Sat­urn. Back in the mid 80’s; or per­haps it was ear­li­er on my first vis­it to the 🎞 David Dun­lap obser­va­to­ry, my child­hood friend and I had tak­en the north­bound sub­way as far as it would go. From there we had to deposit addi­tion­al tokens to take a bus fur­ther north on Yonge street to the Obser­va­to­ry road in Rich­mond Hill. From there we walked in the dark till we arrived at the main build­ing on the grounds; not bad for two 15 year old boys. The obser­va­to­ry was hold­ing an open house to show­case their tele­scope while shar­ing their pas­sion for those who exist high in the shad­ow of the earth. I don’t remem­ber what we saw, I do remem­ber the excite­ment as i climbed up a wood­en stair­case to reach the eye­piece reveal­ing the gifts of the heavens.

A decade lat­er I found myself sit­ting beside a friend­ly and well dressed man with a Span­ish accent in a class­room at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. He intro­duced him­self as Arthur. The class we shared was Math­e­mat­ics 101. Dur­ing the next three or four years I had the good for­tune of know­ing Arthur and his fam­i­ly of gift­ed math­e­mati­cians, philoso­phers and a clas­si­cal musi­cian. Dur­ing this time I nev­er knew why I was accept­ed into this gen­er­ous fam­i­ly, until sev­er­al years lat­er. My time with Arthur and his fam­i­ly enlarged my capac­i­ty of won­der­ment. I learned about the mag­ic that hides in math­e­mat­ics; impor­tant things like how a tea cup and a dough­nut are topo­log­i­cal­ly the same, and all spheres with an atmos­phere will always have storms. I also learned to keep nod­ding my head in the affir­ma­tive as sym­bol­ic log­ic was explained to me with much of this knowl­edge vapor­iz­ing short­ly after­wards. . I had also attend­ed sev­er­al piano and organ recitals and the good for­tune to wit­ness Arthur’s younger broth­er’s per­for­mance of Claude Debussy’s beau­ti­ful 🎞 Clair de Lune.

You taught me the courage of stars before you left How light car­ries on end­less­ly, even after death

With short­ness of breath You explained the infi­nite And how rare and beau­ti­ful it is to even exist

Sleep­ing At Last – 🎞 Sat­urn

Years lat­er Arthur announced the Obser­va­to­ry was hav­ing an open house and that it would be a good idea for all of us to attend. Arthur, his broth­ers and I made our way to the obser­va­to­ry. The 74 inch tele­scope was trained on the plan­et Sat­urn. I wasn’t ready for what I was to see. The beau­ty of this gold­en plan­et embraced by sev­er­al of her rings as seen through the lens was absolute­ly one of the most soul ignit­ing expres­sions I have ever seen. This image remains with me to this day.

I became rest­less after this. I felt as if there was some kind of awak­en­ing with­in me. I was nev­er much of a church per­son although I did find a kind of rev­er­ence sit­ting in the qui­et of old­er church­es. As a young boy my Sun­day school lessons I was being taught just could not find a foothold with­in me. Sat­urn achieved what the church could not. I knew there had to be a great­ness I have nev­er known, to cre­ate the expres­sion of what I had wit­nessed. Where was I to look?

Sev­er­al more years had passed and I was still cap­ti­vat­ed by the expres­sion of Sat­urn. One evening I was dri­ving home on a dark unpaved road, I was ask­ing myself if I should return to the church­es of my child­hood. I asked what about Chris­tian­i­ty, Islam, Hin­duism, Bud­dhism and I no soon­er vocal­ize, “what about shaman­ism?” I sud­den­ly had to brake hard while swerv­ing to avoid hit­ting a Rac­coon. The thought of caus­ing this ani­mal’s demise felt like an elec­tri­cal shock through­out my body. I’m think­ing why now? I know I’m dri­ving up a dark road and we often see ani­mals who had not been so lucky lay­ing as if they are asleep on the road­ways or worse. I guess it was just his lucky night…or was it mine?

I was offered two choic­es on this night; this being a ran­dom act by an ani­mal or this was a delib­er­ate answer to the ques­tions I have been ask­ing. I soon learned we all expe­ri­ence life this way. Ran­dom acts or encoun­ters with mean­ing, such as teacups and dough­nuts or being enshroud­ed by the music of Claude Debussy all of which was the cat­a­lyst to my spir­i­tu­al evo­lu­tion. We can go through life bounc­ing from one ran­dom act to anoth­er or we move with great pur­pose through inter­pret­ing these whis­per­ing mes­sages. Just as our grief for­ev­er whis­pers to our hearts, remind­ing us of our sacredness.

[…] Mean­while the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are head­ing home again.

Who­ev­er you are, no mat­ter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and excit­ing —over and over announc­ing your place

in the fam­i­ly of things.

Pho­to cred­it: Simon Berg­er from Pix­abay

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