12/13/09

The Wrangler

“Aristotle isn’t scripture,” the student said to himself. “Lord, I want to believe... teach me to believe...”

Watching from the upper gallery, his eyes followed two acolytes as they emerged from the sacristy and methodically began preparing for Mass. One cupped his hands over the taper at the end of a long brass lighting stick and followed his partner up the steps of the massive pulpit.

The teenager took his eyes off of the acolytes for a moment to look more closely at the pulpit. Nine reliefs were represented on it, beginning with the Nativity and ending in the Crucifixion. One of the depictions always troubled him, more so than even the portrayal of the Flagellation. There was a certain sympathy he always felt for those infants persecuted during the Massacre of the Holy Innocents and his mind began to drift, wondering how Herod could have been so barbarous.

He was snapped back to the present, sometime around February 26, 1583, when he noticed the acolytes standing at the edge of the rostrum. One leaned forward with arms outstretched, using a hook to pull the heavy chandelier above them a little closer so the other could light the candles.

When it was finally burning brightly, the chandelier was released and it swung freely. Back and forth.

Back and forth.

Something clicked in his mind as he stared at the swinging lights. It began to reach the center and as it did the swings slowed. He placed a finger over the artery in his neck and started to count. These observations made on the oscillation of the pendulum would later prove invaluable in the development of a more precise clock.

A soft murmur issued from young Galileo Galilei’s heart as he began his journey down the roads of faith and science.

4 comments:

Karinann said...

I love the imagery you create with these posts. "...the journey down the road of faith and science."Like most of us , Galileo probably never imagined those roads would take him where they did!
Thanks for another great 300 words.

cyurkanin said...

Thank you, Karinann. Galileo is misinterpreted so much by both sides. The truth is that it was his personality and not his beliefs that led to the later conflicts.

"Wrangler" was the nickname given to him by his classmates and professors - someone who doubts and argues and questions. It's what led him to his discoveries.

Jean-François de Buren said...

Nice to have you back. Great last line.

cyurkanin said...

Thank you, sir!