Apollo 49: Houston, We Have a Birthday
Today’s my birthday. My 49th year on this planet. I’m feeling somewhat reflective and also a bit incredulous that I’m not the size 3 I promised myself I would be at this time last year. But so as not to damper the celebratory spirit, I will skip over that last part and just comfort myself with the idea that I’m harder to kidnap at this weight.
49 is not one of those birthdays that gets the “geezer” banners or the inflatable dentures as decoration. Nor does it warrant a black light bowling party or a pub crawl (Diet Coke crawl in my case). Still 49 years…
I watched an episode of “Madam Secretary” and wondered why a woman my age could be Secretary of State and I’m not her. (I would thrive at all the State Dinners, but would not fare so well in the details of peace agreements.) I’ve even considered continuing my education, but the course catalog has so many interesting possibilities…yet realistically I have to weed out the ones that take longer than I have years left. (That’s a startling revelation. Brain surgeon? No longer an option. Sigh.)
These years, days, minutes, seconds…come by but once. Even then I can’t know just how many are left.
If you’ll allow me to digress for a moment, I’d like to take you back to the spaceflight of Apollo 13. Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert left the earth’s atmosphere on April 11, 1970 to be the third American spacecraft to land on the moon. On April 13, an oxygen tank exploded crippling the service module thus changing the course of the mission.
They were no longer astronauts and explorers responsible for discovering new territories, but now they were commissioned to survive. To do this, they had to become everything at once…scientists, mechanics, pilots, engineers, survivalists, counselors, consultants. Their whole paradigm changed in a moment and remarkably, they adapted. Lovell, Haise and Swigert worked day and night (along with NASA) to find potential solutions for their predicament. On April 17 they returned to the earth in what some called NASA’s “Most Successful Failure.”
Uh…thanks…Pam. That was…uh…informative. What’s the point? Well, if there is one it would be this. In 49 years, I’ve had many “moon” goals. Goals that were admirable and exciting. I’ve even had opportunity to attain some of them and exclaim something profound like Neil Armstrong, “One small step for man. One giant bowl of Haagen-Dazs for Pamkind.”
I’ve also experienced Apollo 13 moments when the “moon” was no longer the mission. I had to adapt my thinking and develop in ways that I never considered possible. I’m grateful. For in my “most successful failures” I have discovered a broader trust in God and a deepened character in me that would not have been revealed in only “moon experiences.”
So whether I have 49 years plus one day or 49 years doubled, I can anticipate the future with hope knowing that Jesus will equip me and prepare me whatever missions may come…moon or not. Now to all my family and friends in whom I’ve had so many glorious moments in time I say, “It’s been a privilege flying with you.”
Go for launch!