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To The Heavens

MoonwalkFifty years ago, human beings left a few things on the surface of the moon. A plaque, recording the fact of the first moon landing. Another sign, bearing messages from various world leaders. An Apollo 1 patch, in memory of the three astronauts killed by a fire. A flag, carefully supported to display it fully in the absence of air. Even medals to honour a pair of pioneering Soviet cosmonauts.

Buzz Aldrin brought a few more things too. A little zip-lock bag with some bread in it. A lightweight silver cup. A small flask of wine. And before he and Armstrong left the lunar module to walk on the moon, he read a verse from the Bible and then had communion.

It’s all quite remarkable - that NASA was able to engineer such a journey within the limits of available technology, and that Aldrin was allowed to carry out such a ceremony. Human ingenuity and respect combined.

And yet... he ate and drank alone. Armstrong watched quietly, not especially holding any religious belief. There, in a situation where things were at their starkest and simplest, we can see the alienation of human beings from each other. Where the comfort of human connection would have been most appreciated, we get ... polite silence.

It could be a cause for despair, until we remember - amongst all those things taken to the heavens, God was not forgotten. They remain on the lunar surface, but God was not left behind!

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