From My Window on the World
by Mike Jacks
What do you fear the most? The answers to that question can be as numerous and distinct as humanity itself. One of the most dread, dark experiences is isolation. While much lip service is given to the desirability of solitary time, the actual presence of such a state can be psychologically unnerving. To be alone with one’s thoughts can be a terrifying thing. Our world is awash with stimuli to occupy our minds, and to keep us from the necessity of confronting ourselves, and our place in the universe. What does it mean to be alone? How does it affect the human spirit? Let’s begin to answer the question with another question. Do you know who Mike Collins, Dick Gordon, Stu Roosa, Al Worden, Ken Mattingly and Ron Evans are? What significant experience do they share? Are they ball players, rock stars, or lawyers? At one time, they were all quite famous, but that time is past. If you know your history, you are aware that all of the men were astronauts. Yet, above even that, these six men shared an experience unique to them and them alone. While their more famous astronaut brothers landed on the moon, it was their mission to maintain a lonely orbit, awaiting the moonwalkers’ return. A lunar orbit took just under two hours to complete. Forty-seven minutes of each was spent in complete isolation as their space capsule passed around the far side of the moon, bringing solitude that one NASA employee described as the most profound any human being had experienced “since Adam.” In his book, Carrying the Fire, Apollo 11 command pilot Michael Collins revealed that his aviator hero, Charles Lindbergh, wrote to him, saying, “I watched every minute of the space walks, and certainly it was of indescribable interest. But it seemed to me that you had an experience of in some ways greater profundity… You have experienced and aloneness unknown to man before.” Collins grew to like this feeling of solitude, but paid a high price for it. He admitted afterward, “I just can’t get excited about things the way I could before Apollo 11.” Isolation had changed him as it does all who experience it. Another astronaut described plunging into the shadow of the moon. It was a darkness and aloneness that you could feel, he said, which seemed to enter you as you drifted deeper into it, playing tricks with your vision and sending a little chill down your spine.
None of us will ever orbit the magnificent desolation of the moon. We will never feel the palpable darkness of infinite space. But we may encounter the isolation that exists in the dark night of the soul. Loneliness has been described as a lone flower, dying in the desert. However we attempt to define it, the realization of how alone we each are can compel us toward introspection. It is in isolation that we discover who we really are, and what we truly believe. Perhaps this is why we all fear it so.
The world has largely forgotten those six men who maintained a lonely, necessary, vigil so long ago. Their faithfulness to their mission required them to orbit in darkness and their comrades bathed in glory. Your mission in life may cause you to orbit in darkness for the greater good.
None of us like to feel isolated or alone. Yet there are unavoidable times we must orbit in darkness to eventually bathe in the light. Each of us will react in our own unique way to social isolation. Yet it is in those black abysses that we see the illuminating light of God. In this challenging endeavor, we finally discover that God is with us in this galactic enterprise. And in truth, there is no such thing as galactic isolation.
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Mike lived in Jamestown, Ohio with his wife, Zane, and their children, Lindsay (23) and Kirk (20). Mike and his family were founding members of Transformation Christian Church, a newly formed simple church.
Mike went home to be with the Lord on February 1, 2017
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