Searching for and feeling “The Force”

“Pray to have eyes to see God’s hand in your life and in the world around you. Ask Him to tell you if He is really there—if He knows you. Ask Him how He feels about you. And then listen.” – President Russell M. Nelson
When Obi-Wan Kenobi gives Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber, Luke opens it and wields it around him with dazzling power. As he does, Obi-Wan talks about the nearly extinct tribe of Jedi warriors who had been guardians of the Republic for thousands of years – before the dark times.
Luke’s father had been a Jedi, so he stops brandishing the saber, sits down, and asks how his father died.
Obi-Wan explains that one of his former students, Darth Vader, betrayed and killed Luke’s dad because he had been seduced by the dark side of the Force.
“The Force?” Luke leans forward.
“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power,” Obi-Wan says. “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.”
The original idea for the Force came from Roman Kroitor, a Canadian filmmaker, who said. “Many people feel that in the contemplation of nature and in communication with other living things, they become aware of some kind of force, of something behind this apparent mask which we see in front of us, and they call it God.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Roman Kroitor weren’t the first to describe the mysterious, omnipresent, unfathomable Force which crosses cultural boundaries and spans centuries.
The Chinese call it Qi; the Japanese, Ki; the yogis, Prana; the West Africans, Nyama; the Iroquois, Orenda; the Jews, Shekinah; the Lakota, Waken; Quantum Physics, the Matix; and those returning from a hero’s journey, the magic elixir. It’s also known as the Mind of God and the Light of Christ.
Sometimes that Force becomes extraordinarily concentrated as in the Jedis’ lightsabers or, in the real universe, cosmic rays.
Scattered across the desert terrain where wild horses run are scintillation surface detectors spaced every three quarters of a mile apart over 300 square miles.
They have a fancy name, but not a fancy appearance. In fact, some say they resemble a hospital bed powered by solar panels, but they have a serious function – detecting cosmic rays shooting to earth from outer space.
Cosmic rays aren’t really rays, but rather clusters of high-voltage particles that jettison around the universe at close to the speed of light. When they hit the earth’s atmosphere, they explode into secondary particles that shower to the ground.
Scientists aren’t positive where the original particles come from. They think some may be generated by superstar explosions, but others carry such an intense load of energy, they think they’re projected by some other force, perhaps from massive black holes which eject them rather than sucking them in.
Experts may not know their origin, but they can track them. The University of Utah’s Telescope Array research project includes an international collaboration with Japan, Russia, South Korea, and Belgium.
The U of U observatory is located in the alpine desert west of Delta, UT, and every time we’ve visited the area I’ve been intrigued by the strange-looking scintillation surface detectors.
They’re hard to miss since there are over 500 of them. Researchers have also installed three fluorescence detectors which observe the ultraviolet light from the secondary particles as they shower to earth.
Recently, U of U scientists documented a “hotspot” of cosmic ray emission coming from the Ursa Major Constellation which forms part of the Milky Way, but the search continues for the origin of these particles which are charged with the highest energy of any matter ever recorded.
Despite that immense power, I wasn’t thinking about cosmic rays or even the Force on Sunday when I walked Kenidee along one of the Westwater trails.
Instead, I was praying for loved ones, especially those facing difficult challenges. The severity of some of their trials broke my heart, so I was pleading with heaven for healing and help.
Partway around the loop, we left the trail and negotiated steep sandstone shelves down to my favorite spot by the stream. I settled onto a flat boulder, took off my glasses, and continued to pray while Kenidee investigated the myriad of smells.
Since I’m nearsighted, when I finally opened my eyes and wiped away the tears, the little clearing looked like a 3-D Monet painting.
The stream burbled over a miniature waterfall, a delicate fragrance filled the air, and light filtered through the cottonwoods, their leaves brilliant in the morning sun.
The grass, as high as my waist, the three-leaf sumac bushes, the rabbitbrush, the sage, and the one, lone, mysterious asparagus plant pulsed with life.
A massive juniper guarded my back, Russian olive trees, with their silver-green leaves, grew along the stream, and a bird sang chereee, chereee in a slender willow.
I took a deep breath and felt my shoulders relax.
It was clear in the Sunday silence of the clearing that the vast intelligence which permeated all things knew when a sparrow fell, knew the birth and death of stars, knew the origin and trajectory of cosmic rays, and knew my loved ones down to the very marrow of their bones.
I put on my glasses, dusted off my backside, and called Kenidee. As we crunched through last year’s fallen oak leaves, I realized I could trust my family and friends to the immense power that Obi-Wan Kenobi described as the Force, but that I call God.

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