Consecutive Days Riding: 130 Consecutive Days Blogging: 113
Today’s Mileage: 10 Total Trip Mileage: 923
It’s a beautiful morning, finally a weekend without rain or snow! I just returned from a walk in the woods and spent some time burning fallen branches and dead brush. I’ve mentioned before the spiritual significance, for me, of creating a fire. The flames, the heat, the dancing light add to a sense of burning away the old and preparing for the renewal of spring. It is a fulfilling and uplifting experience.
Before I begin talking about the pilgrimage site which we will be visiting today, I just wanted to share a joy with all my readers. There are those points in our life where as a parent you feel a tremendous sense of pride in your children. My oldest son Max, who is in Army boot camp in Missouri, wrote me with a sense of excitement that he had not only passed his rifle qualifications but he earned the expert rifleman ribbon and had the highest score in his unit 185 troops. He noted in his letter: “I guess it must be in our blood,” for in my military training I had also earned the award. This is a significant moment for my son, a young man who has started many things and seldom finished them (Boy Scouts, high school, football). He seems to be finding himself, recognizing his abilities and seeing himself as part of a group, a team member. All of these bodes well for his future and fuel s a tremendous sense of pride and joy in his father.
Today we’re going to visit a pilgrimage site that I labeled as a Scientific Inspirational Site. As I’ve mentioned before I do not limit pilgrimage sites to spiritual or religious locations. I take a more general view of pilgrimages as journeys we undertake to find experiences that will give our lives meaning and help us to transcend our day-to-day needs and worries. These journeys may help us see what we can aspire to be as an individual and as a people/community/nation. Such pilgrimage sites can range from historic places that remind of us of our roots, art museums that fuel our creativity, or as today the Kennedy Space Center on the East Coast of Florida. The center is where the dreams of the American people have reached into space. From its Atlanta coast beaches the American space program launches vehicles into orbit, to the moon, the solar system and beyond.
I visited the space center years ago on my first visit to Florida, the shuttle program was just beginning, whereas now it’s about to end! I was impressed with the sense of history, with the sense of mankind lifting itself up and reaching for the stars. The space center covers a considerable area and is comprised of numerous different subunits, different museums and launch pads, even a dock where you can visit one of the recovery ships. A visit to the center’s webpage allows you to view a multitude of different photos many taken by visitors to the center. I was particularly impressed with the shots of the shuttle launches, several of which I’ve used in today’s blog.
I don’t think I have to explain why I view this as an inspirational site. Life is a balancing act; there is that which is right in front of us, the positive aspects of relationships, and the beauty that you find on nature walks. But there are also the stresses and strains the life demands that can bring us down and give us reasons to worry. At times we need to think about where we are heading, we need to think of a future, with less stress and pain, one with more hope and excitement. There will always be stressors but perhaps they could be less life-threatening (cures for diseases and climate change); perhaps they could be less about winning and losing (like partisan politics), perhaps life could be more balanced between the material and the spiritual. How to overcome diseases, how to decrease suffering, how to feed the masses, how to educate everyone. Places like the Kennedy space Center make us look to the future as we look towards the heavens. Technological advances such as the Hubble space telescope have done a lot to launch a man’s own dreams and aspirations. It has widened the sense of mystery about the universe and deepened our sense of awe at the beauty to be found within the dance of galaxies and clouds of space dust. We may set off on a pilgrimage journey to reconnect with something from our past, to reconnect with a deep sense of spiritual connection we have known, and sometimes will take pilgrimages that are meant to point us towards the mystery and awe to be found in nature and the cosmos.
One last note, as I dictated this blog and thought about my visit some 20+ years ago to the Kennedy space Center, it’s humorous that the one thing that I most remember about my visit was something that I saw for the first time. Something I’d heard about, I knew existed, but I had never seen before. Driving into the Kennedy space Center in a ditch alongside the road was an armadillo. It slowly lumbers along the shoulder of the road searching for sustenance. I slowed down the car and marveled “they really do exist” I thought to myself. Then I went on to look at man’s quest for the heavens, I’d already made a new discovery. I wish you a good day and I hope that your day will be filled with at least one new discovery.
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