For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

Monday, June 18, 2012

Transitory Venus, transient us.

Sunset on 5 June, but no, you can't see Venus in this picture

Fellow Earthling, did you get to see Venus make its transit between Earth and the sun almost two weeks ago, on June 5th? Without reservation, I recommend it wholeheartedly. Pondering the regularity of the planets and the precision of their orbits, all held in place by a Divine hand, it was hard not to be amazed. It was also an educational field trip for children and adults alike, on the subject of astronomy – fascinatingly esoteric.

We enjoyed watching Venus inch her way into the edge of the sun, and further and further inward, a slowly traveling poppy seed on a huge vermillion cake. We were excited, alongside others in the crowd that gathered at Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory, as we altogether gazed through our solar glasses and the telescopes, checking that the dot was still there, as if our eyes ascertained its existence and the motion of the planets. We took pleasure in the sense of solidarity we felt with our fellow sun-watchers, realizing that we had all witnessed with very our own eyes an astronomical event never to occur again within our lifetimes. We were the proud witnesses, and would go forth to declare this proudly to our children and grandchildren, perhaps with a photograph taken through a telescopic lens to prove it.

Sun, Venus, and sunspots, shot through a telescope

Yet, to me, witnessing the event was not so much matter fit for boasting, but occasion for realizing that transience is our common experience, this side of heaven. Those of us who saw Venus have that in common, but virtually all of us here on earth now, including those who saw it only from a television screen, the newspapers, or not at all, have this in common – none of us, save a very few toddlers and babes, will be here when Venus next makes her transit. What a reminder of how temporary our earthly experience is!

The crowd of witnesses, sharers of more than this experience

Another thing we all had in common – none of us could have looked directly into the sun, in all its blazing glory, poppy seed or not, without sustaining some kind of eye injury. And thus: the solar viewers and glasses, telescopes and sun projectors. The relentless light of the sun insists that we all have this in common – the frailty of our human bodies, the very bodies which will pass away by the time Venus makes her passage again.

What’s there to boast of, then? Not much, if by way of what will return to dust and ashes, imaginary kingdoms, that will come to naught. But everything, everything – if boasting is by faith and of our spiritual inheritance, that wealth of God’s promises and His very sure Word: of that place prepared for us, that eternal life with Him, of heaven of no more sorrow and weeping.

Transitory Venus cries, “Transience!” Our response: to live our days with sober reflection of this reminder, and joyous anticipation of Who waits beyond this Earthly side of things.  

Media presence from FOX I was trying to avoid all the time. Hindsight often lends us wiser words to say, so what you've read is exactly what I would have said. 

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