I woke this morning like most mornings, with a leg cramp. Funny things that fling me out of bed. It is baffling that both my calves and the shin muscles can cramp simultaneously. No anatomical way to stretch one without pain in the other. So, I force through the pain. It is intense but brief. I then lie back down and snuggle in. Both kids come in to snuggle too. They sleep and I listen. The cramp fades away. Insignificant.
My alarm and NPR clicks on and I listen to the Morning Edition. Among the Bernie Madoff stories, including a very sad one about a fund manager’s suicide….there was a remarkable story about the Apollo 8 Lunar orbit mission. I was 2 years old. My sisters were 9 and 6. And on a live TV broadcast on Christmas Eve, the astronauts spoke to Earth. These three men were the first humans to ever look BACK upon the surface of the earth.
Think about that.
They left our planet.
It seems so cliche and ordinary now. Forty years ago, someone at NASA,propelled by a fear of the godless Soviets conquering space and therefore conquering us, raced toward the moon. 1968 was the year of the TET offensive. Dr. MArtin Luther King was assasinated. Robert Kennedy was assasinated. Our country was rioting. In our current ambivalence, it is hard to imagine ordinary citizens rioting. We are tranquilized or so self-oriented to conceptualize the larger picture. Forty years ago, I think our country was more differentiated. We had a foe, an enemy and we raced against them toward a certain kind of victory. Now, we focus on money. Our great national tragedy this year was the stock market crash. I know that is a sobering thing and it DOES translate into real hardness for people. Jobs are lost, life savings evaporated and the future and our ability to provide a BETTER place for our children seems without much hope.
But….listen to that APOLLO recording. Listen to the astronauts reading the Book of Genesis. The awe and wonderment that they must have felt looking BACK at our planet, our home.
I think of the people who have left this planet. When they die and their souls go back to our real home, do they look fondly and wistfully back towards us even knowing they are going to The Creator? Hope is a slendid thing. Hope in the middle of chaos is wonder. Like Mary being visited by the Angel Gabriel…she gets to choose and hope. In the chaos of her son’s death, she had the greatest wonderment any single human being could hold within them. I think those astronauts had a glimpse of the awesome power of God and his beauty that Christmas Eve 40 years ago, too.
I am uplifted today. This world is beautiful amidst the clutter, noise, damage, violence and hatred. I am inspired to be outside myself this Christmas Eve and permit the wonderment to fill me with joy. I offer my compassion to those grieving and full of sorrow, they are my brothers and sisters, too. And, together,Â we all ride this tiny blue planet made by our Lord.
God Bless, everyone. May there be peace on Earth and goodwill towards all.