Right after the Big Bang there was a long period of darkness with no stars–in fact, about 400 million years of darkness. Then clumps of hydrogen collapsed into the first stars and galaxies.
In the process of fusion, the stars produced helium and glowed, lighting the universe. As those stars aged, and nuclear fusion continued, they formed much heavier elements, like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. As supernovas, some stars ejected these elements into the rest of space.
The universe was born 13.8 billion years ago and our solar system around 4.6 billion years ago. During the time between the two birthdays, many stars pushed out the building blocks of planets, atmospheres, other stars and life.
In fact, every one of us is made from the atoms created by those stars. “We’re made of star stuff,” Carl Sagan famously stated in an episode of “Cosmos.” Plants, animals and people are all connected through the stars and starlight.
This knowledge makes Albert Schweitzer’s quote even more compelling.
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
As we come together in Thanksgiving, let us remember our beginnings in the creation of light. Let us also thank others for the help they give us to rekindle our inner light and try our best to be the person who helps light the way for others.