To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
— William Blake, from “Auguries of Innocence”
To see a World in a Grain of Sand — I am reminded of the Dr. Suess book, Horton Hears a Who!. Horton the elephant holds a flower upon which a tiny little speck rests. This little speck represents the whole world of the Who’s. I remember reading this book as a kid and wondering if our whole universe was contained in a single atom within a much larger universe, and then each atom in our universe contained a tiny universe of its own. As scientists in our universe explore inside the atom, they find smaller and smaller particles, some flying away from each other, some colliding into each other, much like galaxies. And within these atomic galaxies are billions of stars, some with planets, and perhaps a few of those have earth-like places. What is the universe like that contains our atomic universe? What are the billions of universes like with each atom of a grain of sand? Maybe there is a single atom in our universe that contains our universe in some introverted recursion?
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower — The beauty found in God’s created things reflect, in some measure, the beauty of heaven.
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand — An infinite number of numbers stretch out to the left and to the right on the number line. There are an infinite number of numbers between just zero and one, and between one and two, and so on. Just inside any cirlce lies π, whose decimals never repeat, never end. And to find a finite area under a curve, calculus adds up an infinite number of infintely thin rectangles.
And Eternity in an hour — Now, the gift of the present moment, this is where God is. Not in the past, not in the future. Eternity holds every instance; every instance holds Eternity.
Every time I hold the Eucharist in the palm of my hand, I hold Inifinity; I hold the World; I hold Heaven and Eternity. I touch Jesus. I touch God. And God touches me. Not unlike when I hold a grain sand or get lost in infinite wonder at the beauty of a wild flower.