Seeing the universe within
As a child, I was fascinated by what I saw when I closed my eyes. Initially, I would find myself surrounded by an endless darkness. I strained and squinted, my eyes searching back and forth, holding back the fear that there was only nothingness to be found, not willing to believe it.
Slowly, I started to see dull patches of colour, swirling in and out. At six years old, I had found the universe in the back of my eyelids and I was in awe. It’s hard to ignore the strong connection between light and nature.
At the most basic level, light is the primary source of nature, providing the energy needed to sustain the growth around us. Yet, through my interactions with nature I often feel as though it produces a light that re-energises me instead; somehow, giving me more strength within a few hours than a whole day relaxing at home.
More and more, I come to realise that this transfer of energy has roots deeper than being the mere byproduct of “clearing my head”. Step, by step, by step, I fall into the rhythm of nature around me and soon, a long walk becomes a spiritual journey.
In the Holy Qur’an it states, “And there falls not a leaf but He knows it (6:60)”. With each step I am reminded of the presence of God, also known as “An-Nur” meaning the Light in Arabic, and truly believe that such beauty could not be created without His hand.
There is another belief in Islam that all things are in a state of worship and submit to God. The mountain bows even as it stands tall, just as the sun submits to spreading light and warmth each day. At his command, the water nourishes, the wind aids sound, the night covers, and the day brings forth knowledge. Such are the characteristics of nature.
I see my pull towards nature therefore, as not simply one of attraction, but of learning. I am reminded of the characteristics of giving, sharing, protecting, teaching, and helping, amongst many others. When I came across this quote by the founder of my particular Islamic community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, my reflections came full circle. In his book, The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam he states:
“If you are in doubt with regard to the qualities with which the human soul is invested, then reflect upon the sun and the moon and the other phenomena...know that man is a microcosm that comprises a tiny representation of the pattern of the universe” (p.117).
I am inspired by the universe I see within those whom I work alongside this year and those who are committed to saving lives around the world. Like the sun, they spread warmth through service and love to those who suffer from hunger and diseases such as malaria. Like the moon they shine light in the darkness by educating and working alongside people from diverse faith traditions.
Together, they share the characteristics of nature and become a force for good in the world. Today, I can perhaps too easily explain away my childhood phenomenon, but perhaps my young self was right in thinking a person could carry the universe behind their eyes. Perhaps we need to take a page from childhood, to learn from what is natural, to look into the darkness and not only see the potential it can hold, but to be inspired by its light to act.