Not so ‘super’

Lost moon‘ is the title of Commander Jim Lovell’s account of his experiences on Apollo XIII. In it he recounts his failed attempt to reach the moon in April 1970, even at a time when the Apollo space programme had made it seem so close.

Last night, along with tens of thousands of others, I gazed in wonder at a moon so close it looked almost touchable. Its mountains and valleys were revealed in all the sharp contrast hitherto only seen through a telescope or a spacecraft window. Like the little boy who tried to capture the moon in a net, I tried to capture it in a photograph. It was not a huge success!

At first the moon was outshone by all the lesser sodium lights in the streets below.  When at last I found an uninterrupted view with a solid surface to lean on, the moon was so bright that it confused my (very cheap) camera, and it was unable to focus on it.  I even tried photographing it dramatically through the silhouetted branches of a pine tree – but then it focussed only on the branches of the tree and left the moon as an indistinct blob in the background. In the end, I turned my back on this astronomical phenomenon and walked home, flicking through my disappointing photographic results as I did so. All the while, the moon shone serenely on, unaffected by sodium lights, cheap cameras or inept photographers.

As preachers, we often try to describe things so wonderful that they are on the far edges of human vocabulary, or so profound that they can only be understood through incarnation rather than description. There are certain aspects of our faith which we can only understand by living them.

Like most lunar astronauts, Lovell’s experience has filled him more with a sense of wonder for the earth than a sense of romance about the moon. It also gave him a sense of admiration for the human temperament which always reaches for the next star or crosses the next ocean. “From now on we’ll live in a world where man has walked on the Moon. It’s not a miracle, we just decided to go”.

If you decide the describe the indescribable or capture the unimaginable in your words today, may God lend strength to your efforts.

Is it just me - or does it look like there is a hand cupped around the moon?