Jeffrey Kemmerer
Grace Allentown

This is one of the worst photos ever taken and one of the most amazing photos ever taken. It is titled “The Pale Blue Dot”. It was taken in February of 1990. It is a photo of the earth from Voyager 1 as it was leaving the solar system – about 3.7 billion miles away. The photo was taken at the urging of the late Carl Sagan, a popular science promoter of the time, and inspired his book, “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space”. The photo is part of the “Family Portrait” series of our solar system.

The earth is difficult to see – a small dot in the middle of the right side of the photo in the brownish band. The colored bands are lens flare caused by the sun which is out of frame on the right side. That tiny blue dot.

So what does this have to do with us and our pilgrimage ?

Again, echoing back to Bishop Sean’s words at the beginning of our pilgrimage:

But the wilderness, the place where we rely completely on God and because we are willing to rely completely on God or let’s say more completely on God, we are shown a vision that we might not have imagined, and were given the opportunity to co-create with God, and to exercise a powerful vision and if we’re intentional about our wilderness time we might say it’s a time of holy pilgrimage.
Bishop Sean Rowe, 2015 Diocesan Convention

A ”vision” and “co-create with God” are tall orders for us bound by our human limitations. “The Pale Blue Dot” gives us a glimpse, a very small glimpse, of the scale and grandeur of God’s creation. We are looking at one planet in one solar system. If we zoom out to our galaxy, there are billions of solar systems (or at least stars), and if we continue to zoom out, there are billions of galaxies in the universe we can see. We have no idea what is beyond that.

I don’t know about you, but I began to get dizzy back at the “one planet” scale of things.

So maybe we can’t grasp God’s perspective, but we can recognize our limitations and recognize God’s glory. While some have looked at this photo and concluded how insignificant we are, I tend to have a different view – a similar one to our ancestors who, in a different time, have come to the same conclusion and have woven it into our liturgy:

O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord; *
praise him and magnify him for ever.
O ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord; *
praise him and magnify him for ever.

O ye heavens, bless ye the Lord; *
O ye waters that be above the firmament,
bless ye the Lord;
O all ye powers of the Lord,
bless ye the Lord; *
praise him and magnify him for ever.

O ye sun and moon,
bless ye the Lord; *
O ye stars of heaven, bless ye the Lord;

Benedicite, omnia opera Domini,  Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer, Rite 1 (of course)