Pale Blue Dot - Ash Wednesday
My friend Jordan Wanner sent me this picture a year ago. I found it a great way to meditate on Ash Wednesday... that day when we launch into Lent, a season of reorientation that helps us see ourselves in correct proportion to God.
The picture that you see here is from the Voyager 1 Space Probe, taken as it was leaving our solar system in 1990. It was 3.7 billion miles away when it snapped this shot. In the brownish sunbeam to the right, about half way down, there's a tiny pale blue dot. That's us. That's our entire planet.
Astronomer Carl Sagan captured the humility that such a picture should inspire in us.
We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there – on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The Christian author G.K. Chesterton said that pride is seeing oneself out of proportion to the universe. I think that pale blue dot is a helpful reminder. Stare at it for a while. Ponder just how small this entire planet is. In words that are spoken over the faithful each Ash Wednesday,
"For dust you are, and to dust you will return."
- God, spoken to Adam in Genesis 3:19
Ponder these things, and then ponder just how small you are. And how great our God is- to see us, to know us, to love us.