It’s remarkable what can come to mind when one celebrates an anniversary like VE Day. In the early years of the war my parents and I lived in the middle of a town which was to suffer many bombing raids by the enemy. Night after night I would wake to hear the siren and then I would be plucked out of bed to be taken down to the reinforced cellar and laid in a cot with timbers laid on top of it. By then, one could hear the bombers overhead and the guns around us trying their best to shoot them down. Many times did I hear the whistle, the silence and then the crump as a bomb exploded. The problem was that there was a railway shunting yard across the road from us and this was obviously one of the targets.
After the raid, I would be returned to my bed and I would wakefully look out of the window and could see the great acacia tree in the garden outlined in the red glow reflected in the sky of the burning buildings. In this tree in the silence after the raid there would often be an owl hooting and the wonderful singing of the nightingale – what bliss. At other times I would just stare at the myriad of stars – and wonder – which memory led to the following little piece.
As the little boy watched the stars through his bedroom window, he was amazed. When he was older, he had learned that the stars he could see and those which apparently he couldn't see were as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore and that these stars made up the whole of the universe. He had also heard that the universe was expanding – but, he pondered, where indeed was it expanding to?
If, as he thought, there must be a boundary to the outer reaches of the universe, as if all the stars that ever there were are contained in a great big invisible expanding bag, where were the stars going? – and how much further could they go? Surely, he thought, there must be a limit to this expansion. It was then a great mystery to the young boy.
Over the course of his early years, he had gradually come to realise the immensity of the universe and of the countless numbers of stars that existed. And then, he had read that the sun was really a star which was surrounded by bodies called planets of which the earth was just one such body and that it would take over a hundred earths to just cross the middle of the sun.
And since, like the grains of sand on the sea-shore, there were so many suns, the young boy suddenly found himself, in his mind, shrinking smaller and smaller with the mental picture he'd built up of the immensity of the universe. Indeed, he came to the conclusion that he was but dust, just a speck of dust, together with everyone else who walked with him on this earth – everyone is insignificant compared to the universe.
He had curled up in his bed and had gone to sleep, feeling minute although it was not a thing that upset him - he was more overawed by it and it made him realise just how lucky he was to be alive in such a vastness!
But the sheer unimaginable size of the universe also made him feel most humble and since, as he came to learn in time, God had created all that there was with but a thought, the whole universe indeed – it was beyond all human comprehension, and this led him to realise that the power of God is unimaginable – for God's power has no limits.
And yet, for all his feelings of minuteness, he had learned even from an early age that although he was but a speck of dust in the vastness of God's creation, he was still special to God, who loved him and heard him and, what's more, who answered his prayers - in spite of all his wrong doings! That he came to realise was the unimaginable love and compassion of God.