Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mr. Spaceman

When I was a little girl, I had a thing about dinosaurs. I mean a bad thing. In my mind, dinosaurs tested, not my faith, but God himself. There was no room in the Bible, in my opinion, for dinosaurs since it started at the beginning and went to Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus without them. Since people seemed so bent on disbelieving in God, I just decided to disbelieve in dinosaurs. Sure, I saw the humongous dinosaur skeletons in the Smithsonian, but I could no more believe that those bones were real than I could believe that God was not and, honestly, I couldn’t see how those bones made anyone think of the colored giant lizards in children’s books. It all seemed a giant fraud to me. Sometime in my teens, I listened to a man I respect very much, John Clayton, give a lecture on Christian Evidences. Somewhere mid-speech he said, “Can you believe that there are actually Christians who don’t believe in dinosaurs because they can’t reconcile them with the Bible? (Not an exact quote, but what I got)” I slouched in my seat as he went on to show that our God is not so small that we can’t believe that He created giant reptiles that no longer exist today. Now I don’t exactly like ‘em, but I trust that God knows what He’s up to!

That intro took me a little off track from where I was intending to go in talking about space ships and astronauts and flying to the moon. In my mind, dinosaurs and rockets are little boy territory (along with cowboys and racecars). I probably should have led in by talking about Ray Bradbury (James is a big fan) and his tales of rocket flying, Mars colonies, and aliens. Or maybe I could have mentioned (should we confess?) our year long blockbuster marathon of Star Trek shows. But what I really wanted to mention our new fascination with the Apollo program and the amazing years when (a few select) men became at home on the moon.

Two weeks ago (the day before our blackout), James and I took Isaac to the Beartooth, an eclectic dine-in theater that sells amazing pizzas and food and shows an eccentric mix of mainstream and specialty movies. We once watched a crossword puzzle documentary there called Wordplay that kept us more riveted than many movies we’ve seen. We took Isaac to see In the Shadow of the Moon a documentary of the Apollo missions narrated ONLY by the astronauts who flew them. When the trailer made me cry, I knew it was probably very moving, but I was not prepared by how vital the movie was. The men shared tear jerking, funny, and touching moments, but they touched on a deep profundity of being not much more than the biggest daredevils in the nation coming face-to-face with their own smallness, vulnerability, and mortality in just a corner of the greatness of the universe. The men handled this in different ways, but you’ll have to watch it yourselves to find out. It is definitely worth having in your video library and will tie in beautifully someday when I teach my kids about space!

Since then, I’ve been reading up on the facts of the missions and lives of the astronauts, mostly to reinforce my memory of all that I learned through the film. Last night we watched a library copy of “Apollo 13” which I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager. In the recent shadow of the documentary, it both seemed less deep and more real (than it had in the past), but I’ve been walking around all day feeling the gravity dragging at my feet and thinking in awe of those who took giant risks to escape it. I feel like bragging that I got to see a rocket take off at Cape Canaveral when I was 11 and crying that American astronauts burnt up in reentry two months before I came home from Russia. It all seems personal now.

It probably is just a phase, so I’m not redecorating my bedroom in “space theme,” but I just wanted to share it with you.

When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,

the son of man that you care for him?

O LORD, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalms 8:3-4,9

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