To Have a Father

   Sons should “look again at”  their fathers. This is the etymology of respect, as my dad helped me explain to my soccer coach.

When my family was dropping my dad off at the airport for his deployment, I, what the world would call a stepson, felt I had much to consider. Was I going to represent him well as the eldest son while he was gone? Would I reflect his integrity and responsibility? Would he be pleased with me when he returned, or perhaps, if he returned?

While I thought these things, with many doubts in mind, I admired a young man who was being dropped off by his parents. He was good looking. His father looked like he was in the wise ages of the late forties, and seemed to have been born in India or somewhere in the middle east. I admire those from other cultures because it seems as though they value well the concept of fatherhood. This father seemed very proud of his son, to the point of becoming almost like a child himself in his manner.

As I relate this, I am reminded of times I have seen how families full of teenaged sons marched out of Sunday Mass with the stature of princes following their proud and accomplished patriarch. Could I stand that tall and walk with such a confident and powerful gate?

This son of this proud father seemed quite confident in his existence as son. I witnessed the father walk several feet between the security line and the check-in line, where there was a bowl of candy, to specially select one such sweet and offer it to his son.

However, after a few minutes, with confusion I witnessed the son spit it out into a trashcan. There were no angry looks afterwards, though perhaps slightly sad ones, but evidently, he was telling his parents he did not like the taste.

This scandalized my whole train of thought. Could someone so blessed take such son-ship for granted? I have seen throughout my life instances where sons were not blessed this way.

One such example spent much of his days in sedentary play of video games, and was at home all day because he had dropped out of school. Although his single mother seemed worn and thin, he had weight on him like his father whom I had once seen from a distance. His speech was slurred and unclear, and for his supposed fitness walks, he wore moccasin fur boots. Sadly, none of the strength of manhood was being adequately instilled in him.

I think that it is very important that sons do not squander the gift of a good man in their life. While I still can, I want to emulate the man who has done so much in saving me from a half-fatherless life that, frankly, would have probably led to jail. He is truly a great man, and it would be the greatest compliment to me if he would see his stature in my own sons. That would make me proud.

Advertisements

California Science

After finding that the outdoor water fountain had been long decommissioned, the disappointed siblings joined the group of young adults and families. In the shade and by the door of one of the buildings they listened to the tour guide from the California Institute of Technology. Despite the drought-inducing heat, he was quite charismatic.

“Welcome to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory!”

As they passed through the doorway, the group felt as though they had entered a science fiction wonderland. Everything they saw was shown to have some comment or intriguing fact to accompany it.

“This is a rendering of the Titan IIIE-Centaur. It flew on the combustion of liquid hydrogen and oxygen which meant that only water vapor was produced. The reusable spacecraft aided the launch of both Voyager 1 and 2, which are presently the furthest man made objects in outer space…”

The little almost-six-year-old was with her much older brother who was considering going to school at Caltech the next year. She seemed to be getting a bit excited.

“Mr. Stewart!”

“… their instruments are very compact and are specialized to take measurements with extreme precision. The cameras could capture a detailed image of an acorn from a mile away…”

“Mr. Stewart!”

“… the generator of either space-probe runs on energy from a radioactive core. This powers the internal components, experimental apparati, and the communications signals across tens of millions of kilometers across space.”

“Mr. Stewart!”

The guide looked around until he finally picked out the young person from the crowd.

“Yes, uh, do you have a question, ma’am?”

“Your spacecraft is so cool!”

“I’m glad you think so, ma’am. It can do a lot of other cool things, too!”

The girl’s eyes suddenly became even brighter.

“Can it help Daddy water the strawberries?”

Environmentalism And Subduing The Earth

The Earth is a beautiful place.

Being in the military, my family has moved quite a few times. On these travels, I have enjoyed looking around and observing the beauty of nature in the states through which we drove. I will never forget the calm and stunning peace of the hills in Wyoming!

One thing I have come to particularly notice in these travels is the distraction of sterile plastic products lying in the grass on the side of the road. When I see them, I am horrified by the fact that these unnatural things will never “disappear”. I presume some chips company will be forever remembered on those monuments that are caught in the brush.

Lately, I have been reminded about related issues. I have learned about the affect mining has on ecosystems,  the effect pollution has on life, and, quite horribly, the effect of an oil spill on the ocean. I have begun to wish things were different and that our surroundings would look free, pure and green again.

In saying this, I sound like an environmentalist. However, I will clearly state that I do not agree with a certain breed of environmentalist. I am speaking of those who allow their nostalgia to drive them to the conclusion that Homo Sapiens is Nature’s worst curse to Planet Earth.

Actually, as a Christian, I do believe those words to a certain degree:

If Adam and Eve did not eat the apple…

 

However, we must remember that the earth was not entrusted to the trees, or to mountains, or any endangered species. God did not tell the gorillas to subdue the earth; He only said for them to fill it.

It was to Man that He gave this charge. It was Man that must find ways to use and shape Nature’s materials of wood, stone and iron. It was Man that must learn to work with Nature’s seasons through farming. Man was supposed to tend the Garden that God created. He still is given this command.

If sons are taking care of the land owned by their father, and have come to the realization that they have been destroying it, is it right that they should destroy themselves for the health of that land? Rather, they should destroy their bad habits, and improve themselves, that they may take better care of the land.

No, our goal is not to make Man disappear, but to use our gift of intelligence to find those chemicals, systems, and methods that best work in harmony with the natural processes and rhythms of the Earth.

Let’s think positively: we have cut down on air pollution, our tools and vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient, and we are coming up with great biodegradable materials to tap into Earth’s natural method to clean up refuse. We are coming up with many great solutions that help the environment!

Because we are human beings, I think we will find more.

An Aspiration

When I look at the stars, I find it stunning and perhaps startling, that while in our galaxy alone there may be thousands of star systems with exoplanets to explore, There are many, many more galaxies speckling the universe with each its own stars and planets. I see a vast world, like the depths of the ocean, waiting to be dived into.

I have neither the wings of a Cherubim nor am I yet ready or able to withstand such a sublime journey. In the meantime, therefore, I would like to construct and launch a space probe. It would be an extension of my eyes and hands that right now can only barely reach ten feet from the surface of the earth. Using it, I would also like to test new innovations that could revolutionize human space travel. If I but found the time somewhere in my life, this is surely what I would do.

But this is when I stop and reflect, asking myself a poignant question: if I had the time and resources to pursue such an endeavor, would it not be better to pursue service to the poor? As I pass a glance at the television, the saddening image of a child so grievously wounded somewhere on the other side of the world catches my eye and my mind. Do I let it touch my heart? Perhaps. But nonetheless, the two images, the one of heaven, the other of earth, seem to stand as mutually exclusive cares in my heart.

One night, I read from a blog called The MoralMindField and written by  a certain Brian Green. He tells the story of a time when he visited a family on an island who lived in a little tin roofed shack. They, after verifying through him that men had actually been to the moon, and upon hearing that they came back to earth, said that “men should return to the moon again”. His take on this encounter is that these scientific achievements inspire mankind as a whole, including the poor, and may be even a source of hope for them.

 

So, even the suffering gaze up there, searchingly, longingly. However, I still wonder if it ever brings the questions “What does it mean that God exists?”, or,  “Does he remain out of reach?”

It is quite the contrary, for we are His Hands. I would like to begin an organization in which it will not be merely me, but the poor, the disabled, and the orphaned who will take part in building a spacecraft. Space exploration would not be an occasion of neglect but an opportunity for unity and inspiration, and a reminder of the value of existence. At a time when, for some, little more than the brutal gravity of Man’s suffering seems to exist, it would be a boon to be able to tell the world that, “Truly, someone has flown into the very depths of Heaven.”