Pliny said, of the dew, that it is, “…the sweat of Heaven, the spittle of the stars.”
Mormon scripture, evoking Moses, recites, “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.”
This morning, walking between classes on a college campus, I noticed a field of grass catch the morning sun in the following way:
The young people around me charged past the scene, indifferent, as I or anyone often would. Today, however, I had to take pause to review the beauty of the dew upon the field.
What I saw was a thousand shimmering lights, each a bead which was clearly distinct from all others. Illuminated, they shouted their presence, and declared: “I exist!”
These beads had no life yesterday, and will likely not endure past noon. In this moment, however, they embodied a resplendence. Sure, these are just little collections of molecules, unique only by virtue of a few properties of physics that cause them to be bound up in one droplet or another. The air which birthed these is full of moisture at all times and it’s hardly anything magical that the dew dropped this morning. But, in a certain way these kinds of arguments are true about everything, including our own lives. And what are we but some kind of meat robots?
What is remarkable about the dew, however, is that it truthfully does exist. This field of stars upon the green isn’t some Platonic abstraction. There is no descendancy from the ideal which gives these – as arbitrary imperfections – a kind of meaning. Instead, each and every one of these sparklets has a discrete and real existence. Each could be touched, and upon the touch wither away forever.
For all our searching, for meaning or God, peace, happiness, or what-have-you, the most important quality of life is something we too frequently overlook. Reality. This substance around us, through which we daily pass, above or below which we presumably can never reach, is real.
There is, I suppose, some distance field of stars of which I have no awareness. But that does not preclude, necessarily, its reality. And while a sparkling image of lights, a shining chaos, can dance through my imagination, it is these dew drops which really do have a real existence here – an existence largely overlooked by those near passing by.
As the Bible quotes God, in his promise to Abraham, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.”
For each of these sparkling, beautiful dew drops, there is a human being alive about whom I have no knowledge except perhaps peripherally by virtue of gathered statistics and geographical definitions. Each might be a good person, or an awful waste of air. But their life is a testament to all of our struggle to be alive. Their breath itself a declaration of that same commonly accepted premise: “I exist!”
Whether or not I know for sure the reality of existence, whether these other people truly exist, or do so only in my perception, whether our common existence implies any kind of natural law or not, it doesn’t matter. One thing matters, that to be mindful of the “spittle of the stars” – of mankind as so many thousand million shining individuals – is to have the voice of God distill upon the soul.
To me, this mindfulness, this attempted awareness, is the pure core of Libertarianism. It leads down a path that makes shaming, war, and other things near impossible to countenance.
Just a thought.