What are they?
I would say they are beautiful. They are magical. But as for what causes them…
…I do not know.
Recently, as I sat with a group of men, shooting the bull, the conversation drifted to the lights that appeared over the Phoenix metro area in 2007.
One man had actually seen them while camping just outside the city limits. To him, they were—or rather, are—real. But he did not venture any opinions about the nature of their reality.
Perhaps he restrained himself because another man, who has flown thousands of pilot miles, didn’t take the subject seriously at all. He knew there was some “reasonable” explanation.
When a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, we know there’s more to the picture than we can see. Just as the rabbit trick is magic, these unidentified lights in our skies are magic. There’s more to the picture than we can see.
Speculations as to what causes such phenomenon lack proof and often sound downright silly. Scientific rationalizations can seem as fanciful as baseless pie-in-the-sky explanations.
We project our beliefs upon those lights because we want certainty.
I want certainty. Though I see beauty in those lights, I also feel the pain of uncertainty. I want to know. But I have no way of deciphering this mystery. I may never know the secret. I may just have to be satisfied with magic and beauty.
Eventually, we’ll gain a better understanding of those lights. But when we do, some other phenomenon will undoubtedly confront us—some other phenomenon will confuse us, dazzle us, cause us to wonder.
I don’t know what our new mythology will be, but I think it needs to teach us how to deal with such mysteries. To teach us to resist the temptation to rationalize the unexplained. But to also teach us to resist the temptation to deify that which remains unknown.
The mysterious can help return us to a sense of wonder. As with any religion/mythology, our new mythology must help us address the beautiful strangeness of our life in this cosmos.
© 2010, Michael R. Patton
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