I am a child of the space age. The month I was born - September 1957 (check) - the Soviet Union launched the first artificial earth satellite, Sputnik 1. As a schoolgirl during the 1960s and early 1970s, I was thrilled by the Apollo space programme to put people on the moon. In my lifetime, human beings have travelled further than ever before and a tiny band of our kind have set foot on another world.
In the process, our perceptions have changed. From space, we can see the earth as a whole. We have begun to live as one human race. We are learning to think, communicate, act and govern ourselves as a global community. Mine is the first generation to grow up with horizons that extend beyond our own planet. We have seen earthrise from the moon.
To paraphrase the introduction to the 1970s science fiction TV programme, Star Trek, it is now space that is the final frontier. With so few unmapped, unexplored areas left on earth, we must look to the stars if we want to go where no human being has ever gone before. And yet, while the human quest has been re-imagined in terms of traversing huge distances and encountering, exploring, conquering and civilising other worlds, it has not been redefined. It remains the same as when the first human beings adapted from life in the forest to life on the grasslands: how do we face the challenge of change? How do we manage the impact of change?
One World. In the last half-century we have entered a new phase of human exploration and, consequently, of human self-understanding, as for the first time we have looked back at our planet from space. We are the first generation to see Earth-rise from the Moon. This evolving global consciousness has been reinforced in recent years by many other factors, including climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, the Internet, the aftermath of 9/11 and now a global recession.
In this context, we see the infinite capacity of the life-giving Creator, the abundance of creation itself, and our God-given capacity to be creative in the manner or “Way” of Jesus. This is the work of the Spirit in our hearts and in our midst, enabling us to be confident (i.e. full of faith and faithful), compassionate and courageous in our care of one another and the Earth, especially in the just management of essential resources such as water, food, fuel and housing.
Called to the Journey
I am a child of the space age. The month I was born - September 1957 - the Soviet Union launched the first artificial earth satellite, Sputnik 1. As a schoolgirl, during the 1960s, I was thrilled by the Apollo space programme to put a man on the moon. In my lifetime, human beings have travelled further than ever before, and our perceptions have changed. From space, we can see the earth as a whole. We have begun to live as one human race. We are learning to govern ourselves as a global community. Mine is the first generation to grow up with this new understanding of the human quest. We have seen earthrise from the moon.
And yet this is as nothing to the scope of the spiritual adventure to which God invites each one of us. All of us - whatever our age or situation - are called to a journey that has far-reaching consequences, a road that takes us where we do not always look to go, a way that changes us, and alters our understanding of who we are and what life is all about. For us, and for those around us. Travel broadens the mind, yes. The spiritual journey expands our hearts and souls as well.
And this is how we can bear it, when the road brings us endings and change and loss and other aspects of life that tear at our sense of who we are and what matters to us. The loss that brings great sadness also creates a space in which God plants a new beginning. For a time, as we mourn what we have lost, we cannot see it. But gradually, we understand that with God, all new beginnings are an invitation to a larger understanding, a deeper insight, a greater heart. At the end of the road, we find a wider horizon. Our vision is altered so that it can be enlarged. Our souls are broken so that they can grow.