Nasa's space shuttle Discovery launched into a beautiful, clear sky at 7:43 p.m. last night. Did you see it?
Discovery mission STS-119 is en route to the International Space Station where they will add a final set of solar panels to the stations truss, complete four space walks, fix the contraption that changes their urine into usable water (yikes NASA, I suck at science, but I am pretty sure this should be your top priority!) lubricate a robotic arm on the outside of the space station, and bring home an astronaut who has been living on the space station for three months.
This is the 28th mission to the space station and 125th space shuttle flight ever. In about 24 hours, seven normal people will be moving into an outer space home for 14 days.
Have I already lost you?
I am particularly in love with this mission because our new friends Todd Hellner and astronaut Shane Kimbrough just walked us through the official mock space station in Houston. We sat in the practice modules, walked through the living quarters, and even know what the carpet feels like on the Russian side of the space station (thanks again guys). So watching lift-off last night was more personal than usual. In fact, as Todd walked into mission control to do his job, he texted Ryan to let us know Hope Now had just come on the radio and he was hoping for a successful night! How crazy is that? Someone about to be on the floor of mission control giving us updates throughout the night. I felt like a kid soaking it all up with wide-eye amazement... these people are going outside of our world and into a place I will only ever hear about.
Outer space. The final frontier!
Seriously, watching an endangered sea turtle give birth is about the most exciting act of nature or science I have ever witnessed myself. The sea turtle was about an eight on my one to ten scale of amazement. Space shuttles are about a 100 million on that scale.
But I fear I am one of the few people who childishly delighted in the shuttle launch. My fear is not that NASA has been forgotten and we are no longer a nation of hero-worshipping astronaut lovers who stay glued to our televisions during a mission, but that instead, we are simply desensitized.
It takes a lot to excite the masses these days. Can't just be murder, it has to be mass murder. Can't just be a space shuttle, it has to be a space shuttle explosion. Can't just be a sermon, it has to be a shocking sermon series with an alluring, dangerous title. Can't just be a sunset, it has to be a sunset from the top of a mountain or at the edge of a beach. Can't just be a relaxed day at home with the kids or with friends, it has to include "going out" paying for the world to entertain us with flashy movies, restaurants, concerts, and malls.
It takes a lot to entertain us. A lot to amaze us. A lot to satisfy us. And a lot to move us to empathy or action.
Astronauts used to be amazing; now they are only interesting if something goes wrong on their mission.
My friend Bryan Eck wrote an article for our church magazine about Easter. In a section he entitled rant he bemoaned the lead up to Christmas. Presents, lights, trees, cookies, special parties, shopping, and little calendars filled with chocolate just in case we forget how many days are left. Then there's Easter. If you blink, you miss it. He describes having to buy new "ill-fitting trousers," remembers getting an Easter basket with eggs, and then before he knew it, it was gone.
Christmas is entertaining. But Easter isn't nearly as flashy. It's sort of the step-child of holidays.
Following in the foot-steps of astronauts, new technology (like I-pods), small scale tragedies, entertainment, and most of the other things in our day to day lives, Easter has lost its luster. Add it to the list of things that we have become desensitized to or the parts of life that start off as meaningful and precious only to find themselves shelved after a few good months or possibly years of self-indulged, under-appreciated use. Sex. Spouses. A good friend. A good time of prayer. A new study Bible. The sheer wonder of fast food. A beautiful spring day. Heck, even a new outfit. The luster wears off and we are left with a choice. Do we only value that which arrives on the scene in bright colors, shouting, screaming, and shocking us into the next wave of bigger and better. Or do we dust off the old, the common, the simple, and the everyday and chose to, with great energy and effort, treasure those things which may whisper instead of violently scream.
What amazes me? That's what I am getting at I suppose. Can the old still amaze me? Do I find it easy to be in awe and wonder? Or am I so used to this fast-paced, hi-tech, entertainment driven world that it takes a lot to really wow me? Have a I lost my sensitivity or can seven people flying into orbit still make me shudder with amazement? Do I still possess the ability to humbly look at the world around me and simply be stopped in my tracks? Am I desensitized?
Does the story of Jesus still move me? Or will it take a tragedy, entertainment, a spiritual high, or perhaps a crazy sermon series to lure me back in to His timeless story?
I want to be wowed. Not by anything flashy though...I am tired of that.
I want to be wowed by the simple story of Christ, by an amazing night of talking with my husband over pizza and wine, by a simple hug, or by watching the 125th shuttle take off and fly into space.
I want the simple to hold my heart... even if it does not hold luster.
How the gold has lost its luster, the fine gold become dull...Lamentations 4:1