Entering the Gateway of the Universe

Words by Sudonia Kouter

The realisatin of this is it, the gateway to the universe –  hit me when we were creeping steadily up the mountain on the stretching road which gleamed silver in the headlights of our minibus. We all got quieter the nearer we came to the SAAO centre in Sutherland and excited chatter only started when we descended from our vehicle.

Even now whenever I am outside I would look up at the night sky, trying to pinpoint what we saw when we were stargazing, something I never would have done before our vist to Sutherland.

Never have I felt closer to the beautiful cosmos which is our universe and also learning that there’s even more universes. Honestly when we researched and discussed terms like lightyears, galaxies, planets, stars etc, my mind was unable to fantom the figures of billion this and trillion that! When I was gazing up, not with one of the telescopes – Each star felt so close and there were so many! The visit to two of the Telescopes, The Elizabeth and SALT was equally amazing! One of the things that stood out was that the mirrors used inside the SALT Telescope was the shape of a honeycomb, which is one of the elements in our story this year –  part of the set is also a honeycomb!

I believe that the whole experienced has touch each of us in different ways but ultimately it will forever connect us.

What I have learnt about the universe and its infinite stretch, brought in me a feeling of belonging. Before this journey I was forever looking out and wondering where I fit in. I delved into the alienness of existing right here, right now. Being a woman, being a mother, being a wife, being a daughter, being me. I’ve given being me many names – different, unique, awkward, strange, deep thinker, complex, infinite. Today I am most probably all of them and I accept that. For I no longer seek, I have found like many scientist have a discovered before me, stars, galaxies, planets.

I have found myself.

I am a daughter of the universe, I am like the sun, bright, warm, fierce and scorching, but the centre around which my cosmos orbit around. I am like a planet, centred with its own stars and moons which brighten even the darkest of days.

I conclude by saying that by looking beyond I have come to the realisation that there a place for each of us to exist, the universe is so fast and that our planet is so unique that no one needs to threaten another living being’s existence, for there is a place for all of us even if we are different from one another.  The stars are so many that each of us can choose one to guide us when we feel lost. And when that one star’s light gets dimmed we need only look south, to found our way again.

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