Each day we are hearing the devastating news of war in Ukraine. Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the toll of war is coming home to us through our screens and speakers thanks to the brave journalists who are working there. People killed. Communities destroyed. Hospitals and homes bombed. People fleeing to safety by the millions creating a refugee crisis. And over the carnage, Putin dangles the threat of nuclear attack. The news reports are heartbreaking, disturbing, shocking, and perhaps infuriating. How can this be happening? How can it be ‘allowed’ to happen? How can one man create such upheaval in the world? Most of us are trying to figure out how to do something good as one person.
In the midst of this, I heard an interview with a NASA official who was asked about how things are going on the International Space Station where there are astronauts from Russia and the US. Apparently, all is well on the space station. The astronauts are functioning as professionals. They know that they are dependent upon one another for their safety and survival.
The intent of the space program is to further human knowledge — about space, the universe, the cosmos. It is to learn about the stars and galaxies and planets. It is to learn about the conditions and forces. And to see how that knowledge can help to advance life on Earth.
Maybe what we need from the International Space Station is not calculations about distance, or temperature readings, or how to grow things in zero gravity, or images of far-flung planets. Maybe what the space station can give to humans on Earth is wisdom about how to live together in peace and how to cherish life here on this precious planet. Maybe given the wildness of mercy this will be another unintended consequence of the space program!
Look at the sky. The sun. If it is night, look for the clouds, the stars, and the moon. The vastness of it all. With a consciousness of this greater reality, surely humans can learn to live together in peace. May the wildness of mercy stir us to make peace with each other and with our gorgeous blue-green marble planet. Amen.