A 2014 Lunar Lenten update
This month I am looking back on the stories I wrote in March 2009 (Yep, five years ago!) and reminiscing about the start of “Did you now?” Well, according to my records, the second or third story I wrote for The Guide was a “Did you know?” about golf, chronicling Alan Shepard’s historic golf outing on the surface of the moon.
For those of you who are golf-knowledgeable and may even read my golf column, Shepard used a wild, one-armed swing with a modified six iron to launch a regulation golf ball an estimated 200-300 yards to what was most-likely an unplayable lie on the lunar surface.
That’s a 4- or 5-iron by today’s standards on the PGA tour, but as usual, I digress.
My lunar story back then was really about the start of the golf season. My update this time around, courtesy of friend and former mail carrier, Damian “Bud” Dirscherl, is a much more serious subject — the beginning of Lent.
Dirscherl keeps me posted on all sorts of topics, from all-things fitness to the occasionally inspiring. Most recently, he shared the moving story about astronaut Buz Aldrin’s religious experience on the moon. The story touched me, and is especially significant to Christians as we begin the season of Lent. So here goes.
Back in 1969, Aldrin, who NASA proposed to be the first man to step on the lunar surface, was “eclipsed” by Neil Armstrong quite by accident — Armstrong was closest to the door. So Armstrong got to take that historic “One giant leap for mankind…”
Aldrin may have been upstaged for the moment, but what he did on his first lunar walk was also profoundly historical.
Unknown to most of us, Aldrin, was an elder in the Presbyterian church, and with the help of his minister, traveled to the moon with a consecrated communion wafer and small vial of communion wine.
Aldrin had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes, when he made this statement to the world, “This is the LM (Lunar Module) pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”
Aldrin then ended radio communication, and in the awe-inspiring silence of the moon, read a verse from the Gospel of St. John and took communion. Aldrin described the event as follows:
"In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the scripture, 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit ... Apart from me you can do nothing.'”
Aldrin continued, “I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements."
I think this is good food for thought for all Christians as we enter the sacred season of Lent.
Next week, as another follow-up to the Lunar landing on the moon, I’m going to take a more secular look at all the drones finding their way into our daily life — including one I saw last year hovering above a Haywood County the golf course.