Thursday, August 9, 2007

Moments of Complete Surrender... an airplane charging the runway to take off... the apex of the rollercoaster's first hill...
...liftoff of a space shuttle when you're an astronaut...

As I was driving to work this morning, I was listening to a news story about the successful launch of the space shuttle, carrying a teacher among its crew. I was reflecting on the tragedy years back when the space shuttle carrying who was to be the first teacher in space exploded. I was in a classroom back then - watching on TV just disappeared. I began to think of how those seconds & minutes just prior to ignition must have felt for today's "teacher in space" - indeed for all of the crew members.

You're strapped in - months of preparation leave you feeling as confident as you can that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, and that everyone around you is doing what they're supposed to be doing. The door is bolted shut - the ground crew gives that final thumbs up - hopefully with a smile. You take a deep breath.

There's a few seconds, even after the countdown begins, while the crew member is still there - can still see you - before the rocket engines begin to fire... if you're not going along for the ride, it's time. A few more seconds, and it won't matter how much you want off - it won't matter how much those around you want to help you get off...just a few more seconds and it won't make any difference.

...3 ....2 ....1 ....

In that moment - complete surrender. You're riding this thing to outer space. Getting out, staying on planet earth are no longer an option. The engines have ignited - momentum is building - gravity is losing its hold on you... even though you've not moved an inch yet. Fears of what may happen may enter your mind - but you've no choice but to move through them.

I wonder if our astronauts begin to catalog the things they wonder if they've taken care of - or question whether they've taken care of them adequately. Did I turn the toaster off? Will the kids eat their vegetables while I'm gone? Is the mortgage paid? Did I go to the bathroom? OK to make the list I guess... but no matter what you determine in the process, at least for the next several minutes there's nothing you can do about it. My guess is that Ground Control, no matter how accomodating they are, is busy during lift off. Maybe once you get in orbit they'll check on the toaster for you... but for now... it's total surrender.

What will be will be. God is in charge. We've all done the best we can do to prepare - now its time to go. Now its time to do. If corrections need to be made along the way, we'll do that - but we're committed...

...and we have liftoff.

I realized, driving to work this morning - next to my last day in the job I've held for 12 years... less than three weeks until entering the seminary... I'm sitting on the launch pad. I'm strapped in. Taking deep breaths. Going through my pre-flight checklist. If something critical were to happen, I could still climb out of the cockpit. The moment of TOTAL surrender isn't here yet. The engines aren't yet firing.

...but, my guess is if you're an astronaut, by the time you're strapped in and the boosters are fueling, it would have to be something really, really big - not just passing fear or anxiety - before you'd raise your hand and say, "Um.. thanks anyway, I think I want off." Yeah... me too.

T minus 15 days and counting. God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me. I'm ready, I think.

Did I mention I don't like roller coasters? lol

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