As I wiped the sleep from my eyes a little before sunrise this morning, I gazed out my south-facing window and saw two bright objects in the sky. There was blazing beauty to each of them and together they took my breath away. I thought one was Sirius, until I did my research and realized I was looking at the shining glory of Saturn on the left and Jupiter on the right. Such splendour, such sublime majesty in these two planets.
I thought about our own planet in crisis with a virus running amok across the globe. I thought about the grandeur and sterility of each of Saturn and Jupiter. As far as we know, there are no viruses, no bacteria, and no life on these planets. There are storms, of epic proportion, there is dust, there are rocks, there are gases, both volatile and inert, there is sunlight and shadow. All of this has been going on in one form or another for decades, centuries, and millennia. There is a timeless purity to what is going on with these two planets. Processes happen and storms come and go and yet these planets are changeless. There is no global warming caused by the impact of one or another species, there are no pandemics, and no wars.
God has protected these planets from the impact of all such catastrophes and given them over to their own changes and movements. These planets are remarkably ordered by the principles of physics, chemistry, and gravity. Yet, if you were to watch them from a close vantage point, they might appear chaotic and out of control.
Today, as I watch them from afar, I am reminded that there are places of pristine purity, protected by the huge gulf between humans and these holy places. We have not yet sullied the stars. Annie Dillard says that we have indeed damaged many of the holy places here on earth.
“It is difficult to undo our own damage, and to recall to our presence that which we have asked to leave. It is hard to desecrate a grove and change your mind. The very holy mountains are keeping mum. We doused the burning bush and cannot rekindle it; we are lighting matches in vain under every green tree.”
― Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, Harper Perennial, 2013.
Yet, Saturn and Jupiter give us hope of places not yet seen that are still holy, pure, and unsullied. Let us cling to the hope of one day seeing the holy places of God.
 Don’t worry, they are still social distancing. They only look like they are close to each other from this angle.
 Some storms have persisted for hundreds of years.