I had been pursuing her for a year.

"Just friends" they say, but that didn't do us justice: we traded jokes and books and mock-outraged punches on the arm and milkshakes and looks from across the room, and read each other's minds and fell into each other's presence every time we met. But the thing was: from the moment she walked through the door at the bookstore where I worked I knew she was the one I had been made for. I just couldn't tell if she knew this too.

She was an artist and worked retail for the small but steady income it provided while she built her portfolio. When the gang from the store went out together I'd always pick her up at her tiny apartment, and I learned the closed door to the left in the hallway led to her studio, which I never saw. "It's my shrine," she said, "it's my sanctuary."

She had just gotten out of a long and bad relationship when we met. I knew because that was what she'd told me when, the first week she was working at the store, I asked her if she wanted to go out for coffee. We did indeed go out for coffee, and as I watched her over the rim of my cup while she spoke of brushes and textures and the uses of Japanese gift wrapping from the corner market, I considered how I would manage the hunt. Her heart, she had made clear, was not a tame thing that would come at my call. It was a wild and maybe wounded creature that only appeared in flashes between the trees. Capturing it would require care and caution. And patience. God, the terrible patience.

We became friends. Every now and then as we grew closer and the timing seemed auspicious I would ask her if she wanted to have dinner with me, or go to a movie. She would look at me sidewise and then her laughter would ring out like bells and she'd squeeze my arm in a way that was not quite a refusal and not quite acceptance, and which I chose to take as a promise of "Not now, not just yet, but later."

Then came a night when she answered the door by reaching out and grabbing my hand and pulling me inside, flinging the door shut behind us as she dragged me toward the hallway. "Don't ask, follow," she said over my protests. For a wild moment that made my heart hammer against my ribcage I thought we were going to her bedroom. But she turned left instead and led me for the first time into her studio.

The paint-spattered dropcloth slid off the easel. "Tell me," she said, and waited.

I walked slowly forward, my eyes moving over the canvas that stood before me, taking it all in. It wasn't what I expected at all. Which is not to say that I knew what to expect, or thought I had, but the strange and sudden beauty of it took my breath away. It was an abstract -- color breaking in upon color, bold and vivid. And here, yes, that Japanese paper she'd talked about, carefully torn by her strong, sure fingers, its calligraphy emerging still and serene from the chaos.

In my middlebrowed ignorance I'd always imagined that art of this type was random, paint and paper and whatever else thrown haphazardly onto a surface by self-conscious artistes who lacked the discipline to master the straight line. Yet this was not randomness I saw. It was her. She spoke in every carefully-chosen color, deliberately revealed herself in broad strokes here and a subtle half-hidden pattern there. I stepped closer and saw layers amid the layers, wonders within wonders. I felt like I could look at it forever and never grow tired of it.

"So? Tell me," she said again. I turned to see her suppressing a smile.

"It's beautiful," I said.

"Are you sure?" she said in a teasing voice. "Do you like it? Do you love it?"

"Yes, I love it."

She grinned. "Hold out your hands. Like this, dummy." Laughing at my confusion, she skipped across the cement floor and grabbed my wrists, lifting my arms. Then she picked up the painting and she placed it in my hands. My fingers closed over the wood of the frame; I held it tightly, afraid it would fall, gingerly, afraid my clumsy strength would tear it. Bewildered, I looked at her for an explanation. Was I taking this somewhere for her? Did she want me to do something with it? She looked back at me with her sparkling eyes and mischievous, shy, proud smile.

"It's for you", she said.

The beauty of an ordered pattern behind things is a subtle thing. Its nature seems to be something forever just beyond my grasp, yet it thrills me. Piece by piece humankind builds its theoretical model into a giant explanatory structure, but I can only ever catch brief glimpses of that whole. In some of these moments I sense a kind of holiness, perhaps, and my senses quicken. I sense the beauty of this universe around me and containing me. I sometimes feel in my research like I have peered into the exquisite workings of God’s mind. Heart stopping vistas of lovely complexity, whole schemes of perfect evanescent knowledge lie buried within the deep workings of nature. This is my ecstacy, touching it all.

Like the first telescope, first microscope or your first sight of a waterfall in a woodland clearing, the computer too can expand and bring to life mathematical schemas, margin notes in sciences portrayal of the universe. It is a portal through which we can gaze upon mysterious and bewitching landscapes. Such new panoramas include the worlds of fractals, cellular automata or genetic computing. As I survey these beautiful avenues I am brought again and again to that short lived feeling of ecstacy. Wholeness and the riddle of a designer sensed.

The idea of God is a very present one to many scientists in their work. I watch a pendulum in motion, I see its parts, I understand some of what is going on in the system. I can see for example how gravity provides the restoring force, I understand how the thread sweeps out a rough cone, I know the whole is oscillating according to a sinusoidal pattern. How far does my vision of what is happening extend though ? It is not total, that is for sure, there are many aspects in this little world I don’t see, am not fully aware of. I do not model all the atomic and molecular interactions in the bob and thread, how well do I grasp that Gravity is pulling the thread, but that gravity is part of a larger unified set of forces that have evolved through time since the big bang ? How well do I envisage the electrons in their orbits and the oscillations that are the system’s temperature ? No, I do not see all. But God, as we imagine him or her, would see all. Every single piece of every single whole in the whole universe, every relationship, every interaction , every real or imaginary part. I let my mind play over the idea.

Or let us look elsewhere, at a human being, In wonder we may catch glimpses of the intricacy of our own bodies. This great cathedral of cells, and its grand cyclic chemistry, I cannot hold the totality of it in my mind, it is too much, thus again I become convinced there must be there should be, some greater mind, some infinite mind perhaps which can fully appreciate the wonder of all that is, which could even linger in pleasure over every detail, and, incredibly, savour the whole, the entirety of creation’s story. Such a mind would be the great justification for the cosmos, the first reason, relating to it would be the one truest value, thus I say let us speculate about it, let us enjoy the idea of it !

I see order everywhere, multifarious, glittering, dancing order, wondrous in its immense variations. Intricate beyond majesty, as the camera zooms out from a single point to reveal whirling depths of structure, infinite order. A part of this universe is life, beautiful complexity. All laws of matter and energy conspire to reach fruition in life. All becoming seems to predestine the arising of this singular miracle. I need more words to describe it.

Myriad tiny particles, atoms, form larger entities. These combine once more into still larger objects. Complex molecules are formed, these interact with each other in further ways, cycles of pattern come into being. Life itself is composed of these cycles. Simplest unit of its being the cell, but the camera still zooms outward, out of these building blocks further arrangements are still made. From beetles through butterflies, bacteria, reptiles and finally, most complex of all man/woman. This is the glorious temple of science’s vision. This wonder is worship of God the consummate mathematician and scientist, the divine architect.

So I feel a need for God as a divine witness sometimes now, to pay full and right homage to the wonder of all these processes. This God must also have created everything. How sad a world where the only consciousness is so limited it sees only tiny fragments of the whole tapestry, just skimming the surface of what is. This precious dance of nature must have a spectator. Thus I speculate about God, despite my share of skepticism about divinity. But I will continue the conjecture. Could this whole universe be just a flicker of one greater thought, just the exploration of one instant’s whim of the mind of God, in its infinite majesty, as it plays with endless possibility. This idea, too, is grand enough to deserve hoping for, to justify our consideration. We can only touch parts of the great Whole, can only glimpse fragments, but I feel myself intoxicated by the richness of the world’s story, so vastly meaningful it would split me into fragments were I to attempt to ingest its essence. God is fully master of this object though. Glory to God ! (If he/she is there !)

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