Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Eyes looking heavenward
In less than 48 hours a giant explosion will propel the Endeavor heavenward from Kennedy Space Center. Tons of fuel will detonate and the Space Shuttle will laboriously attempt to break the bonds of Earth's hold upon her, carrying six men upward and sheltering them from the nothingness we call space. Mark Kelly, Commander of the Endeavor, will be in space as his wife, Rep.Gabrielle Giffords, and millions of us watch and pray. I remember the Challenger explosion-the shock, the astonishment, the pain and the emptiness. I remember the first time I visited the memorial to the Challenger in Israel and realized that loss of innocent life and its untapped potential resonates in every locale which cherishes freedom and human achievement.
I remember the Columbia explosion and the emptiness which washed over me; the vast sense of loss from a tragedy which was, above all else, a colossal waste of human life. There had been such success -and on the brink of that success the nations of the world wept (including India and Israel- both of whom were represented on that crew).
Like you I remember the emptiness which washed over me when we learned of the Tucson shooting in a strip mall. Again, the loss of life and the emptiness brought about by tragedy-this time a tragedy initiated by a thinking person. Tragedies which were worlds apart- the loss of life by forces beyond our control as explorers and scientists seeking to expand our shared knowledge and overthrow limits of space and time succumbed to accident contrasted with a destructive and malevolent act of intentional hatred and criminality targeting families and our society.
I prayed at the times of the Challenger and the Columbia and at the time of the Tucson shooting (I continue to pray on behalf of those who were injured- mentioning them by name). I remember hearing the words of Mark Kelly when he prayed at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. on Feb.3, 2011:
"You pray where you are. You pray when God is there in your heart."
My eyes will be looking heavenward in the coming hours...praying alongside Gabby Giffords and the families of the crew of STS-134. I shall take a lesson from Mark Kelly, pray for his safe return to rejoin his wife and all of us and continue to pray for Gabby Giffords's renewed health. And may this family be granted reprieve from future tragedy.