Chronic pain can often have us looking down for days. Looking down at life, other people who don’t seem to understand, doctors, even our dearest friends. Pain can get us down, too, to someplace that seems heavy, burdensome, and without positive possibilities.
On Friday, September 21, I was reminded of what can happen when, no matter what else is happening during the day (especially a bad day), we look up.
That day, I glanced out my window and saw a very rare sight – the Space Shuttle Endeavor was perched atop a modified Boeing 747 and was flying low and lazily toward Hollywood. Two smaller planes flew with it, but otherwise, the sky was devoid of anything else. Just this amazing spectacle of a craft that once flew into space – and was now going to reside in a museum in Los Angeles.
As the shuttle slowly flew away, I noticed how small it seemed; it could hardly be large enough to contain several adults on their mission! I couldn’t imagine the cramped quarters insside the white, oblong hull. How in the world did they overcome weightlessness and claustrophobia (did any of the astronauts have claustrophobia)? Or, rather, how “out of this world,” did they cope?
The shuttle also reminded me of the one time I’d seen a shuttle launch. It was years ago, in Florida, in the wee hours of the morning. It was chill and damp, and a group of us had to stand in a field far away from the launch pad, but the distance made little difference. As we watched, the shuttle went from final countdown to firing its rockets, rumbling like the most ferocious of earthquakes. The powerful propulsion of the rockets pushed the shuttle into the night sky, and the whole world lit up around us, then dimmed, again, as the behemoth surged upward and out of sight. At the time, I didn’t think so much of how cramped the astronauts were, only about the experience and the daring of it all.
Yes, the shuttle experience seemed larger than life then. And, how small, years later, when I saw it swoop over Los Angeles on its final flight.
Full circle, like a life-bound orbit are some of our experiences, like this one. An awesome impression, the thing of dreams and possibility, and then a graceful good-bye.
In our daily lives, we focus much on the immediate. Certainly pain often takes away our sense of dreaming and possibility and wonder. We look down often, making sure we don’t trip. Or, we might look ahead, to try to discern what is to come.
But sometimes, looking up reveals things we wouldn’t ordinarily see. Looking up can help us chip away at despair and foster dreams. “Looking up,” with prayer and openness can give us a fresh perspective, a way of making our world a little bigger, a little brighter.
I’d never imagined, when I was standing in that chilly field in Florida, that I’d see the shuttle years later. But it reminded me that sometimes, when we’re most down, it helps to look up. And then, as we make a graceful return to the mundane, the immediate, we can keep those flights of fancy tucked into our hearts, knowing that possibilities and potential are also part of God’s wondrous world.
Blessings for the day.