On Monday, I happened to be in the car for most of the day and caught a Fresh Air interview with physicist Brian Greene. Now, I took physics in college, from the illustrious Dr. Baker, and I actually enjoyed it quite a bit (in large part because Dr. Baker found ways to make his class funny, somehow). But I don't pretend to understand what Dr. Greene was discussing. Basically, he was discussing a theory that states that matter can only combine in a finite number of ways, and if the universe is infinite, then that combination will occur repeatedly throughout the universe. In other words, in an infinite universe, there may be many parallel universes, within which matter has organized in the same way (as in, we are all there in the parallel universe, living our lives like we do here, I guess).
As mind-boggling as this concept is, I have thought in the past about the possibility of different moments in time happening simultaneously - like envisioning that my mom is her young, healthy, witty self somewhere else in the universe. Maybe then I'm some sort of inter-generational tie between my mom and my daughter, who will never get to meet in this world, connecting them as I reach one hand into the past and hold onto Dora's hand stretching into the future.
And there's a sense of parallel universes when you think about all the joy and pain that simultaneously take place in each moment, day, year, life. In my own little life we have an amazing, flashing light of joy among us - another baby coming to join us later this summer. We have dreamed of this for so long and are overjoyed that our sweet Isadora will get to be a big sister. Yet in the midst of our happiness, we have friends as well as strangers in the greater human family facing unimaginable sorrow. Just today I learned of one friend involved in a serious car accident and another, whose courageous journey I have mentioned before, who needs our prayers now more than ever. Perhaps only quantum physics can explain how such beauty and such pain can at once be contained within this world, how the blessings and the sorrows get tossed out across the universe like so many shining stars.
As I put Dora to bed tonight, she said to me, "I wish I was in your belly". I asked her why and she said, "so we could snuggle". I promised her that she will always be my snugglebug, that I'll always snuggle her. We talked about her being a big sister, all the things she will teach her little sibling, how she'll help me with the baby. Dora refers to this baby as a girl, even though we don't know (and won't find out) the sex until the baby arrives. After a few minutes of quiet she said, "maybe she'll like James Brown." I squeezed her close and laughed, wondering how many three-year-olds are so into the Godfather of Soul that they hope their siblings-to-be will share in their musical tastes.
Maybe not so many three-year-olds would say it now, but maybe on some other plane in the universe there's a 1960s kid about to become a big brother or big sister, hoping their new sibling is going to get up offa that thing, too. Maybe in the parallel universe Mike made it home safely from work yesterday, and Rachel is so healthy she hasn't had so much as a stuffy nose in the past three years. My prayer is that, if matter really can only organize itself in so many ways, these realities in the parallel universe become reality here. I pray for wholeness for the entire human family, for health and healing for all those who need it, for wisdom for those who provide medical care, and for an unending capacity for love and forgiveness among all of us. With all of these things, the universe truly is infinite.