On Going to the Moon: Not Just Another Raving “Lunatic”

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A popular lunatic

One of my favorite old-time TV programs is the Honeymooners.  A line from that 1950s sitcom which always makes me laugh is when Ralph Kramden, played by Jackie Gleason, gets flustered at his wife and yells, “To the moon Alice, to the moon!”  The loud-mouthed, robust, and scheming Ralph always had a lot of explaining to do with Alice, his practical common-sense wife who always seemed to have the upper hand in matters.

A trip to the moon seemed to be far-fetched and out-of-reach during the 1950s. It was just about as far as away as anyone could ever even imagine. Most of us have at least taken a few moments to stare at the moon, wonder about its distance, and to try sketch out the face of the man of the moon. But in 1969, a man named Neil Armstrong would be the first to step foot on the moon. Recently the news has been abuzz with the recent passing of Neil Armstrong on August 25, 2012 due to complications related to heart disease.

The passing of Neil Armstrong

The media is full of comments on Armstrong, described as a quiet and humble man who was a grateful but also the reluctant hero. A popular story tells of Armstrong’s visit to Jerusalem where he stood on the stairs to the Temple Mount. In thinking about being at the original steps where Jesus actually walked, Armstrong was quoted to say, “I am more excited stepping on these stones than I was stepping on the moon” (Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem, p. 429). Most of us will never get to the moon to be able to compare.  But a lot of persons would love to have a chance to at least walk in the steps of Jesus. There are even those that would jump at the chance to do both.

An endeavor as difficult as going to the moon

For each one of us, there are things that seem as insurmountable as going to the moon. There are things that we would like to accomplish and we can easily get overwhelmed with such prospects. Tasks like starting a business or undertaking a fundraising campaign. My own parish is in the process of restoration and renovation where the multimillion dollar cost seems about as obtainable as flying to the moon. Others might see getting a college degree as distant as the stars, especially if one has challenges such as lack of financial resources, being a single parent, getting older in age, and/or the first one in their family to reach such an achievement. Believe it or not, there are quite a few people who stop in their tracks just because no “no one among their family or friends has ever done such and such.” My own undergraduate alma mater Campbell University had a slogan, Ad astra per aspera, which translates “to the stars through difficulties.”

Challenges can be simple and everyday ones

There are everyday goals that seem as difficult going to the moon. One popular challenge involves the effort to lose weight. To some people dropping a few pounds is as big of an accomplishment as a televised lunar landing.  Another is the effort to save money. This is something that seems next to impossible during tough economic hardships and in the climate of increasing taxes.

Unfortunately there are even some people, such as those who might suffer from depression or illness, getting out of bed in the morning can seem to be a great task. Others might have a tough time finding employment. Some might have the problem of overcoming an addiction.  There are addictions to all sorts of substances and habits from drugs and alcohol to gaming, shopping, and even picking one’s cuticles.

The secret of one step at a time.

Neil Armstrong is known for his famous quote: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Whatever we might try to do, the secret is to go one step at a time. Just about everyone has faced a messy kitchen or bedroom. And just about everyone knows that the way to tackle it is to start first at one corner.  Little by little– order is made. It is the same way with issues in our lives.  Often this is one day at a time, one minute, and sometimes even only a second at a time. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Back to walking in the footsteps of Jesus

What about being able to walk in the footsteps of Jesus? Though many of us will never get to go to Jerusalem, the moon, or even to Rome, the truth of the matter is that we can still actually walk in His steps wherever we find ourselves. This is not through bi-locating supernaturally either; but spiritually seeking out God’s plan for one’s life and having the grace to walk in it.  This is about following God’s Commandments. Jesus gave each one of us the advice to take up our Cross and follow Him. So whether we are boarding our own “challenger” or “endeavor” in our own backyard or living room, we can be excited in knowing that as we embrace our own Crosses we are indeed following in Jesus’ footsteps.  And that becomes a huge step for each one of us.

Next stop, Mars!

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