Radical Joy Revealed
January 18, 2017

Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places. We hope you'll enjoy these doorways into places that are both familiar and surprising, and we welcome your suggestions, stories, and photos. Click here to subscribe. 

Earth from 4 billion miles
The "pale blue dot" that is Earth, photographed by NASA's Voyager 4 billion miles from home. Photo by NASA/JPL_
More than twenty years after the famous photo of Earthrise captivated people around the world, another image of our home planet made an impact on a small group of scientists. For more than ten years the Voyager spacecraft had been streaming toward the outer reaches of the solar system, dutifully taking pictures of Jupiter and Saturn and sending them back to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Houston. Popular astronomer Carl Sagan noticed that there would come a brief point in Voyager's journey when the craft would be in direct alignment with Earth, four billion miles away, and he persuaded NASA to turn it around just long enough to aim its camera at its planet of origin.
The resulting image had none of the majesty of Earthrise. Instead of an orb of ocean and cloud suspended in lustrous black space, this photo showed pixilated bands of black, brown, mauve, and gray. Only careful scrutiny revealed a tiny pale blue dot among the cosmic monotones. The JPL employees who had been posting photos of Voyager's journey in a gallery at the facility added this one to the collection. But then something strange began to happen. The photo with the pale blue dot had to be replaced again and again, because it kept getting smudged. Finally, said Candace Hansen-Koharcheck, who worked at JPL at the time, they realized what was happening: "People would come up to look at it and they would always touch the Earth.
They would always touch the Earth. Because, there, amidst the anonymous strands of universe, was Earth: unlikely, lovely, and no larger than a peppercorn, and these scientists were filled with wonder. Who wouldn't be? In order to stay sane on a challenged planet, relearning the knack of touching the Earth is essential.
What will you do today to touch the Earth?

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Radical Joy for Hard Times is a global community of people dedicated to finding and making beauty in wounded places. Reconnecting with these places, sharing our stories of loss, and making acts of beauty there, we transform the land, reconnect people and the places that nourish them, and empower ourselves to make a difference in the way we live on Earth. 
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