On Thursday night, October 7th, a date three days longer than the 53rd anniversary of the launching of Sputnik, the first satellite sent into space, a Soyuz rocket pealed itself from Earth's confines. Riding atop the Russian built rocket were three men. Their destination is the International Space Station where astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Scripochka will join three other space travelers who for months have been residing in a space station some 17 thousand miles above the earth.
~photo courtesy of AFP and Yahoo News
Meanwhile, according to the BBC, 33 miners who have been trapped underground in the San Jose Mine for two months may be rescued by this weekend.
~photo courtesy of CNN
During the last two months, men have been inhabiting space underground and a space vehicle high above the earth.
I find this mind-boggling.
My suspicion is that few, if any of us, have even noticed. My own awareness of this came only when reading the news. During these last two months, I have been more focused on changing jobs, the lives of my own children, an upcoming election, writing and a host of mundane things too numerous to mention.
Meanwhile, thirty-three men have been enduring entrapment some 23oo feet below the earth's surface. On August 5th of this year, the roof of the San Jose copper-gold mine collapsed. Located north of Copiapo, Chile, thirty-three men began an ordeal the likes of which seems unimaginable. Entombed, if you will, in the mine shaft darkness, these men have endured a form if isolation few, if any of us, could even begin to comprehend.
While these events have been unfolding in Chile, three men have been orbiting the earth living in a capsule roughly the size of two football fields. The International Space Station, as it is called, has been manned since October 31, 2000. In other words, for nearly ten years, men and women have been in orbit around the earth, separated from their families, friends and the entire human family.
Certainly an entire essay could be written on mine safety, the poor record of the company which owns the mine and the Chilean government's lack of enforcement. In turn, there are those who have been critical of the International Space Station program. One could write as to the value of the program's expenditures, whether or not nine years of manned space flight has been worth the risk, as well as, what ought to be a Nation's priorities at this time in history.
Let others do so. I am still trying to fathom what the miners in Chile, along with the astronauts and cosmonauts passing along the sky above me have had to cope with.
When I read the reports of these events - miners trapped below the earth; men rocketing from the earth to join others in space - I found myself remembering the writings of Howard Thurman. One of the greatest spiritual writers of the twentieth century, Thurman often wrote that we tend to get caught up in our own "little lives."
Entrapped in our own small spaces of awareness, walled in by our limited perspectives, prejudices, anxieties, we so often miss any true contentment. We miss, as well, being open to experiencing that which is deeper, higher, beyond the confines of the boxes with which we have surrounded ourselves.
Love and faith draw from waters deep within the human soul. We miss tapping this Eternal Spring by entombing ourselves in our own self-interests.
I write this not to diminish whatever concerns, fears, sadnesses or trials you and I may be going through. I simply offer this reference to Howard Thurman as a gentle kick in my own Spiritual backside. I forget. I imagine others do as well.
What I forget is that Life is bigger, indeed, the human family is bigger than my own "little" interests. And while what I am concerned about is real, what I am concerned about is only part of a larger canvass.
In these last days of what I had thought was a long week, miners, astronauts and cosmonauts have melded together to remind me that it's a big world out there. Indeed, it's a big Universe.
I celebrate that I am part of it. I remember also, that though I have been given the remarkable gift of life, my space in this Space is still infinitely small.