I recently came across a series of pictures that made me re-think my relationship to the universe and how I feel about it. I've often felt awestruck by the enormity and beauty of space. However, by toying with photos of celestial objects, they can appear to be much smaller. These playfully-edited pictures changed my feelings from awe to something much more tender.
These paradigm-shifting pictures and the feelings they evoked reminded me of something I recently read by G.K. Chesterton. In this passage from Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith (print, digital, and audio), Chesterton responds to the idea that the vastness of the universe should be overwhelming, reducing humanity to a state of trembling fear in the face of its enormity. He wrote:
"[If] a man chooses to have an emotion about the largeness of the world; why should he not choose to have an emotion about its smallness? It happened that I had that emotion. When one is fond of anything one addresses it by diminutives... [Some] people professed that the universe was [overwhelming]; but they were not fond of the universe. But I was frightfully fond of the universe and wanted to address it by a diminutive. I often did so; and it never seemed to mind."
Like Chesterton, I now see the universe as something small enough that I can feel love for. As I look out into the night sky, I think I'll start addressing the universe as "my little cosmos."
See the entire album of these photos here.