I believe that I as a minister do not necessarily have an understanding of all the meanings of the Columbia tragedy, so instead of preaching about what I think it means to us as Unitarian Universalists, I scrapped my plan for last Sunday's service, changing the hymns we sang to reflect the atmosphere of mourning. In place of my sermon, I offered two poems--High Flight by John Magee and Now Voyager by May Sarton--and gave congregants an opportunity to share their own experiences and meanings.
I particularly like the last stanza of May Sarton's poem, which reads:
Now voyager, come home, come home to rest, Here on the long-lost country of earth's breast Lay down the fiery vision and be blest, be blest.
It was helpful to all of us, I think, to hear the wide variety of meanings people ascribed to the tragedy, how important it was to many that the deaths of other, less well-known heroes also be mourned, and to remember that the fact that we will all die gives our lives importance and meaning.