As we look across the landscape from a viewpoint, the earth seems to go on and on without a sense of curvature. However, we know that we actually are standing at one point on an immense sphere–much too large to comprehend except in mere numbers.
Deep within this immense sphere slow convection is taking place in the deep mantle. This drives movements at the surface–plate tectonics in which ocean basins split open, ocean floor subducts under continents to melt, forming the cores of mountain ranges such as the Sierra; and continents collide to form mountain systems such as the Himalaya.
In New Zealand, two such plates grind and twist past each other, creating constant upheavals of the landscape. These upheavals create the breathtaking scenery of the Southern Alps, culminating in 12,000 foot Aoraki (Mt. Cook)–and occasional shattering earthquakes. Now, a scant 6 years after the earthquake that devastated Christchurch’s downtown, another earthquake has closed highways and cut off towns near the South Island’s northeastern coast, raising the sea floor there as much as two metres.
As I try (unsuccessfully) to fully comprehend the magnitude of our Earth and its dynamic processes and teeming life–and the solar system, galaxy and universe, I’m reminded that I’m part of all this–personally, at the deepest possible level. Awesome and empowering. I’m part of this powerful universe–I’m powerful and empowered to do many things–as is each of us!