Look What We Can Do

I watched the space shuttle launch Monday morning, while sitting at my desk at church. Our custodian, who was the only other person in the building right then, happened to pass by my office and I called out to him to come and watch. It just seemed like the kind of moment that you should share with someone – the last time a space shuttle ever lifts off from our earth into space.

I think space travel is incredible. It’s incredible, awe-inspiring, that we have figured out how to get up that high, out of the atmosphere, to “leave the surly bonds of earth.” It’s incredible, also, what we’ve found there – the images of earth from space that have forever changed how we see ourselves, and the vastness of the universe beyond us.

It’s incredible what we can do.

It felt like the end of an era, that blast off Monday morning, and I guess it is. Those who understand these kinds of things have determined that there are other, better, newer ways to explore our universe. We don’t need those bulky airplane-like shuttles anymore. It makes me sad, a little bit, but I guess that’s one of hte things that space travel has taught us: there is always more to learn, always a new way to learn it.

We’re dismantling our church library right now. For years, the library has been a neglected Sunday school room in an out-of-the-way hallway upstairs. Not many people knew it was there, much less stopped by to pick up a book. Most of the books and videos (cassettes, not DVDs), were hopelessly outdated – not bad stuff, just not needed anymore. There was a time when it made sense for the church to keep a library. It doesn’t make sense anymore. There are new ways to learn.

I guess that’s what’s happening with the space shuttle, too. There was at time when it made sense for us to travel to space like that, but that doesn’t make sense anymore. I’m glad that we’re looking for new ways to learn. It’s incredible what we can do.