Neil Tambe

Husband, Father, Citizen, Professional.

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

A prayer for gravity

Human life starts with the sun. At least when looking at fundamentals, the sun is a good place to start. It is the ultimate source of all the energy and is the nourisher of life on this planet. It is it’s light that powers the photosynthesis that makes the plants we eat. It is the indirect origin of oil, gas, and wind. It warms our plant so we, humans, can inhabit it. 

But even before our planet could have life, we needed a planet. Earth, our pale blue dot, the only home we know, is made up of elements like oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, and iron. These elements would not exist without our stars operating as cosmic factories that chrurn out elements through the fusion reactions in their cores.

So, to have life and a plant to sustain it, we need energy and the elements which make up complex molecules. We have the sun and other stars to thank for that.  

And that’s when the profound beauty and mystery hits me, because without gravity we have no stars, no sun. It is gravity that gets a mind bending number of hydrogen atoms to approach each other. And then over 10 million years a star is born. 

Without the Earth, we have no life. Without the stars we have no Earth. Without gravity we have no stars. Gravity is literally the force that binds life together.  

But we even see a sort of gravity in human societies.

Our civilization’s great achievements come from density, a sort of socially manifested gravity. When we bring people and energy together we can have irrigation and agriculture. We can work together and build specialized skills to forge alloys and useful tools. We can create cities that create the prosperity, space, and time that leads to art, science, spiritual traditions, and cultural endeavors. 

Gravity - when interpreted as something that creates social density - is also an idea that binds life together, figuratively speaking. 

When I took a breath early this morning I had one of those out-of-body moments where I was just in awe that a human breath could even exist in this universe. And in those moments, I raise my head and hands to God for thanks and his continued blessing. 

But today, I also lift a prayer for gravity. A force that if we understood its origins, may also mean we’d understand the divine mysteries of the universe itself. A prayer for the unseen, unsung, hero that quietly binds together all life on our planet. Thank you God, for gravity.