The Planets in Their Courses


By Johanna Young, diaconal intern

“At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home. “ (from Eucharistic Prayer C, BCP)

On the evening before the Winter Solstice a lively group gathered at Church of the Woods in Canterbury, NH to cheer the early night and newly built barn with songs, prayers, scripture readings, and concluding with a Eucharist and tasty potluck.

Earler that afternoon the hearty group had gathered in wood for the woodstove and logs for a bonfire while others greened the barn with swags of evergreen and sipped hot cider spiced with cinnamon and cloves.

As the bonfire glowed and sparked, the moon rose slowly over the outline of greens against the deep dark sky, dispelling the darkness of the night.

Now we have just left January and are edging closer to the start of Lent on Feb. 10th . We are in the last few days of the church season of Epiphany; already the days are growing longer and the sun stronger.  But still there are plenty of crisp and clear nights ahead to view celestial spheres. We will be blessed with the opportunity to continue to see five planets aligned in the Southeastern sky before sunrise. Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury will be visible to the naked eye.

Epiphany, from the Greek word, epiphanés, literally means appearance or appearing. What do the planets’ alignment mean to you? Perhaps James Joyce’s use of epiphany might stimulate your thinking.

“James Joyce, the great Irish writer, used this term in his writings to indicate a sudden eye-opener regarding the nature of a person or situation. He said that it is the moment in which ‘the soul of the commonest object … seems to us radiant, and may be manifested through any chance, word or gesture.’ He means to say that even insignificant things in our life can suddenly inspire in us an awareness that can change our lives for good.”(

What a perfect time for us to view a glimpse of God’s vastness this season and to listen with our eyes open to the universe.

For tips on how to view the line-up of the planets, check out: