My son and I recently watched a Netflix documentary about the space program. Of particular interest to me was the process of re-entry. This occurs after the space mission is complete, and it is time to return to earth. To come home.
I imagine the astronauts breathing a sigh of relief as the glowing blue ball looms larger, welcoming the weary travelers home. In fact, the reality is far from a peaceful homecoming! Re-entry is fiery and violent as the spacecraft forces its way through hostile atmospheric gasses and careens through 3 phases known as EDL: entry, descent and landing.
The craft must tolerate incredible heat and its speed must slow drastically to survive the trauma of re-entry. Even a minute miscalculation and the atmospheric forces will cause either an explosion or complete disintegration of both the spacecraft and crew. So, yeah…. Welcome home, guys!
I don’t know about you, but the past year has felt a bit like being in outer space. With the dawn of COVID last spring, we entered into a strange new world. We swiftly made accommodations to survive in an atmosphere that felt quite foreign and fearfully toxic. We became vigilant about washing up, covering up, spreading out and staying in. Nobody knew for sure how long we would remain in this altered state, or when we would be able to come back home. Or if…
Wherever you are from, whatever your politics, whoever you are, however you came to be reading these words, you and I are fellow space travelers. We didn’t sign up for this journey and have no training for these bizarre circumstances. We just want to get back home again, safely. For many it is proving to be a hard and harrowing return.
As immunizations become available and communities slowly begin to open back up, we wonder. When will it truly be safe to re-enter our spaces and places? How do we descend from this strange orbit and land? The pressure builds as the atmosphere begins to change. The heat rises and we must slow from an incredibly high velocity. The ensuing turbulence rattles the soul.
We crave oxygen and gravity and the grace of a smile. We were made to connect and our systems malfunction without one another. The exact timing and path of re-entry is personal and we dare not judge. But I think most every human would agree that resources are running thin, the time to land is near. How do we brace ourselves for impact?
Perhaps, there is wisdom in the way of the astronaut. Consider the following aspects of re-entry:
- There will be heat to contend with. People have strong opinions and convictions on all things COVID. Tap into your own mind, body and spirit. Make decisions that are right for you and keep your heat shield in place to deflect the dissenting opinions of others.
- Slow down. Turn off the news, put down the phone, seek stillness within. Envision yourself returning to work or church, your child returning to school or other gatherings. What do you need to feel safe? Take steps to proactively meet these needs and communicate them to others with respect.
- Descend humbly as the pressure rises. Many have deep convictions about ongoing use of masks, social distancing, group gatherings, vaccinations, etc. Many do not. God bless you all. Humbly do what is right for you and accept that you cannot control others. The journey has been long for everyone, give grace.
- We may land in different places. Even so, this is the home we share for a time. This is our beautiful, broken planet. Together, we can create an atmosphere of love and compassion by speaking life. We can give grace and speak truth into this whirling world where we will live out our days. Until that final day...
Our Heavenly Father will burst through the atmosphere in glory, coming in the clouds (Matthew 26:64). NASA will have nothing on him! On that day, every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (Phillipians 2:10-11).
For those who believe, a time is coming when there will be no more tears or terror, no more disease or divide, no more disgrace or death (Isaiah 25:8). We will be launched into His glorious kingdom and never land. Finally, at long last, safely HOME.