As a lot of people know, my family and I are intending to go to Florida in April to see the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, and just yesterday, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off on it's final mission. Like most people, I really didn't think about the space program a lot...it was always something in my periphery awareness, except when the horrible accidents of Challenger and Colombia occurred. NASA was just an entity that I took for granted, and astronauts were going into space and exploring. I wasn't aware of their schedule, but I knew that they were out there doing it, seeing wonderful things and discovering amazing discoveries, and that we all were benefitting from their efforts. I didn't even know that this year was going to be the last of the shuttle missions until my husband mentioned it last fall. Because I now live so close to Florida, it makes it much easier for us to go ahead and make the trip. I have to say, I never had the urge to go to the space center or see a launch, it was something I never thought I'd get the opportunity to do, so I never dwelled on it...but now...well, it's different.
Looking at the photos of Discovery sitting on it's launch pad, and studying the scenes of this most seasoned veteran lifting off on it's final mission, filled me with this overwhelmings sense of pride and nostalgia, and maybe even a little bit of melancholy. There is so much about the power and ingenuity of the human mind and heart in those pictures. So much of our love of adventure and our work ethic etched in the lines of that engineering marvel that is the shuttle, that it is so very hard to convey in words. Space exploration, even the words-the final frontier-is so much a part of the American Spirit as a Nation that it is difficult, for a person that has never really thought of it, to grasp. The shuttle and the people who man it embody so much of what the U.S. people want to be. They are our best and our brightest, fearless, enthusiastic, hard working, adventurous, and they are go-getters, and family men (and women), they are embassadors, they are peacekeepers, and they are POWERFUL! Aren't these the traits that we strive for both individually and as The United States of America? And maybe even as a WORLD?
So, for the next month and a half, I'm going to try to calm down and NOT die of anticipation, LOL, as I digest and integrate what this chance to see the emodiment of the Human Spirit means to me. For now I know I'm very, very proud of what the Space Program has been for and done for this nation that I love, the symbolism and majesty that it has brought to our national persona. I will probably also mourn for the ending of this era of American space exploration, and because we don't know quite when or how it will continue, I will hope for and anticipate the American return to space in our future. Because, even though I choose to explore the inner workings of myself and God, there too always needs to be those that explore outward, that bring the images of how big our world is, and how vast the power of the Human Spirit working with God, is manifesting itself.