Untethered

Dearest Rachel –

Well, that was terrifying.

Imagine being in a capsule out in the space, you are on your way to link up with another unit (for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s the international space station). You’re looking at the viewing window as a member of the team from the other vehicle gets out, presumably in order to prepare to connect your capsule to the docking bay on the station. All presumably very routine and slightly tedious work.

Suddenly, you hear screams from the other craft. Somehow, the spacewalking individual has come untethered, and is floating out there somewhere between the station and your unit. But they are beginning to fairly swiftly drift away from both vehicles, and those aboard the other craft are calling out for their comrade as he quickly recedes into the distance, with no way to be retrieved.

That’s the vision I just woke up from. And while, for a moment, I found myself wondering why the other craft couldn’t fire up their boosters to pursue the loose astronaut, I knew that – were the tables turned – I would never be able to guide my capsule to him safely myself. I would most likely either crash into him – at hypersonic speeds, up there in medium earth orbit, to disastrous effect – or else far overshoot him, leaving us distant enough that it would do no good, even in the unlikely possibility that he might drift toward my new position. And at that point, I understood the hopelessness of their position, and their inability to go after their now helpless crewmate.

And ringing in my ears with the radio exchanges between them. None of the standard polite protocol that we’ve come to expect between crew and ground control; no ‘over’s or ‘roger’s as individuals speak in their turn and await a reply. No, there was only the sounds of terror and panic in those seconds that felt like hours, as this man came loose somehow (yes, I know there a ridiculous amount of safety procedures and redundancy connections to keep this kind of thing from happening for the very reason that they cannot be retrieved if something like this were to happen. A dream doesn’t bother to consider these sorts of things, you have to understand) and drifted off, slowly and inexorably at first, but then quickly into the void of that vast abyss that is space, even as relatively close we all were to the earth. And even as he disappeared, his radio signal stayed every bit as strong, his screams matching those of the station from whence he came.

Again, it was all just a dream, and am I ever grateful for that. That is not a responsibility I ever want to have, nor is it one that is ever likely to fall into my lap.

But it does leave me puzzling, like the kings of old; what does it mean, and why send that to me, Lord? Are You trying to tell me something, and if so, what?

Part of me thinks that it’s all supposed to be some sort of reference to the responsibilities of the Christian life; wherein this man adrift is somehow some one I need to go after, and here I’m making excuses as to why I can’t save him. But really, it was just that quick: one moment, he was opening the hatch to eventually guide the nose of my capsule in manually; the next, he was a few feet away from either craft, and then further and further off, until… And that’s the other thing; he was out there in order to connect my ship to theirs. He was the one shepherding me in, when suddenly, everything went wrong. So that analogy breaks down pretty quickly.

Maybe it’s just to remind me that, for all my complaints last night, things could be so much worse. It’s not as if I’m dying or anything, or that things are impossibly out of control. Indeed, I’m on the path to improvement, however long and tedious that path might seem to be. These things take time, after all, and I have to bear with it.

Or maybe I’m just reading far too much into this in the first place. After all, I’m not Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar – whatever dreams I might have aren’t going to be all that important, any more than I am. So I should stop applying world shaking import to any of them in the first place, and just be glad that they’re not real.

They aren’t, after all… right?

Right?

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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