Historical Imagination and the Renewal of Culture

On some summer nights I like to take my children up the hill behind our house. We live far out in the country and no lights from other houses can be seen. The sky is like black glass reflecting nothing, but dazzling with billions of stars and planets. At the crest of the hill we lie in the grass. It takes a little time but we eventually grow quiet and still. The children lie on my chest or snuggle under my arm and look up. We gaze up, up into the infinite pool which bears the stars into being. Above us, on especially clear nights, with the aid of a low power telescope we can locate a tiny smudge of light which is the closest galaxy. It is spinning, spinning, but it is so far away that one could look for a whole lifetime and not see it alter. There are other galaxies out there, I tell my children, that whirl into each other like discs blending in space without colliding. They pass through each other, those billions of worlds, at thousands of miles per second, yet they do not appear to move at all. The children can just barely believe it, but they do believe it because I am their father and they trust me.

“The universe is deep,” I tell them. “You can look into it forever.”

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