25 years ago today…

I was attending a small Christian school in Kansas. Several of the kids had left for P.E. but I’d stayed back due to being sick or something. I believe I was in 5th grade. At one point in the morning, the teachers gathered us around a little TV, that may have been a black and white set, I can’t remember now. We were all excited to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Just over a minute into the flight an explosion happened. My young mind couldn’t quite grasp just how massively tragic that was. I understood that people had died, and I was sad about that, but to empathize or at least sympathize with the ones that had lost family members was beyond my capacity at the time.

Watching the footage now, I find my emotional response much more in tune with how much of the nation must’ve felt that day. The reactions from the TV reporter and the NASA Tech were basically the same; they were speechless.

Our challenge, of course, is to recognize and embrace just how fleeting life on earth is. We should mourn the losses, and celebrate the breaths. We should give as many as we can the chance to breathe with ease, because the ebb and flow of life on earth will always call humans to return to that quiet dust.
It is not our right to live happy, it is our gift. Our gift from God and our gift to one another, should we accept the challenge.

Before we embark to give happiness to one another, we should consider the renaming and re-framing of what happiness is. To call it joy and to know it in the midst of pain and suffering indicates that we have touched upon a bit of grace. For when heavenly grace collides with earthly reality, that is when we see supernatural truth and beauty beyond that which our minds can fully conceive. Our bodies are tied to the laws that govern this beautiful, beastly globe, but our souls can constantly be in flight, smiling at the joy of freedom.