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Living Lightly column

Heavenly days

By Kirsten Coates

We are currently in the midst of a one in a thousand-year event. It’s not a flood or a bushfire or a drought but rather a planetary phenomenon. Over the next few weeks four planets will be in alignment: Saturn, Mars, Venus and Jupiter and we earthlings will be able to witness this with the naked eye: no special equipment required. And for a brief time, the position of Venus and Jupiter close together look like one very, very bright celestial object, outshining the rest. For those early risers who happened to see this, it is pretty special. But considering the distances involved and contemplating space for just one minute, takes this event to another level altogether.

Roughly speaking (because these figures change depending on the planets orbit), Mars can be 54,500,000 km away, Venus can be 170,000,000 km away, Jupiter can be as far as 968,000,000 km away, while Saturn can be a mind boggling 1,200,000,000 km away!  And to think these distant planets lined up in our lifetime and we could merely walk outside and wonder at the universe and our place in it.

Recently a  young teacher told me about a student who came to him at school lamenting about how horrible the world is. It is a sentiment oft expressed by young and old alike. So much is happening in the world that would make it easy to sink into despair.

Instead of falling in to step with the student’s outlook, the teacher told student: ‘Hey, the world is amazing! Think about how we are all stuff that’s come from stars, how we’re actually the universe, thinking about itself. Isn’t that amazing!?’

What a wonderful way to think.

The Living Lightly column is a place to come to think wonderfully. Our contributors offer inspiring, thoughtful and thought-provoking articles that help us feel wonder. Writers challenge us to see more closely, look more clearly and take time to think beyond our daily 21st Century lives and to take time out to consider gardens, wildlife, wild places, wholesome food and connections. They challenge us to consider alternatives to make the world a better place and give us hope that so many people are creating positive change.

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