Galaxies and stardust

Recently our Universe of New Mexico Astronomy department was notably part of an international team that found new galaxies in the Universe. Hidden away behind layers of dust and stars, drawing our Milky Way galaxy towards unimaginable new worlds were these superclusters of heretofore unseen galaxies.

Galaxy Abell 1689's  Gravitational Lens  Magnifies Light of Distant Galaxies

How rarely do I have the chance to pull my nose out of what is right in front of my face. And yet, the universe we live within is beyond comprehension. There are these brilliant galaxies composed of stars and dust….and then there are tiny bees. And humans. Both  composed of stars and dust.

My friend Lorenzo Candelaria, the South Valley organic farmer reminded me of this just today. I went down to visit him and see the early Spring progress as he and his workers prepared new starts in the hoophouses and roto-tilled row upon row of dark rich humus. Lorenzo, his usual cheerful 4’7″ diminutive self, clothed in coveralls and his trademark straw hat and neck bandanna, pulled a rolled cigarette from his pocket, lit it and took a deep drag.

He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye as I inhaled deeply of the fragrant warm moist air of the hoophouse—tobacco smoke curling around us. There was a long row of Russian Kale, my favorite. Arugula, baby greens, spinach, lettuces of all types.  This was Lorenzo’s religion. “This is our mother earth. Like an umbilical cord,  we are connected to her for life…without her, we die. We humans are made of the same stuff as this earth but also of stardust. The whole Universe is right here inside us as humans! It is here in this soil! Such potential.”

Lorenzo is my earth mystic friend. He is absolutely delighted by all of it, 20 years after marrying himself to the land. And like any good marriage, time has only enriched the soil of his love. When I come to this little 4 acre plot, I also feel that all is right with the world. How can I explain it?  It’s like a tiny piece of the Garden of Eden. Shalom. The peace of the soil as it harmonizes with the molecules of plants, sipping water and air to make something that we can eat. No chemicals used. Such beauty and goodness and health.

“Look! Some bees have moved into an abandoned hive. Let me show you!” Lorenzo beckoned me.


We walked over to the topbar hive, cobwebbed and dirty.  Sure enough, bees were flying in and out of the slit of a doorway. When I pried off the topbars, the bees flew out. I stood stock still, since I was silly enough not to don my veil and smoker for this event. What I saw was amazing. The hive was chock full of comb and an old colony, their small bodies huddled together, noses buried in the comb, butts in the air—like a picture from the death scene of those who had imbibed the poison of Jim Jones’ Guyana. They were lifeless and still. Likely they had starved or frozen to death.

Yet, swirling around this scene of death was a new hive of bees, longing for a place to call home. Busy tidying up, sweeping the floors, hauling debris, clearing out the macabre scene of death in lieu of resurrection.

Wow. I didn’t know what else to say.

Lorenzo smiled. Mother Nature knows what she needs. The universe has brought the bees here—gratis. They are right on time for the Spring bloom. They come ready to pollinate. Life bearers.

Galaxies that we have never seen, do exist. Bees and humans, trees and flowers, dolphins and topsoil are merely a microcosm of those far off places. That which is light years away is also here.


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