A Wood Between the Worlds

Fly You to the Moon

In Rocketmen: The Epic Story of the First Men On the Moon, Craig Nelson recounts an experience which Apollo 11 Communications Chief Ed Fendell had after Neil Armstrong had taken that "small step" onto the surface of the moon. In the aftermath, Fendell went home, slept a couple hours and headed back to Johnson Space Center, to Mission Control. Stopping at a Dutch Kettle to eat some breakfast, he overheard two older men, gas station attendants, talking about the moon landing: "One of them says to the other, he said,'You know, I went all through World War II. I landed at Normandy on D-Day.' And he said, 'It was an incredible day, an incredible life, and I went all the way through Paris and on into Berlin,' whatever the heck he was talking about. He said, 'But yesterday was the day I felt proudest to be an American.' Well, when he said that, I lost it. It all of a sudden hit me as to what we had done, you know. And I just threw my money down, grabbed my paper, and walked out and got in the car and started to cry."

Reading that tears came to my eyes too. When Fendell was crying in his car, I was ten and likely asleep in bed, the full gravity of the moment lost on me, though I do recall our family gathered around a 9 inch black and white Zenith TV watching a man on the moon. But reading about it now, I have the greatest admiration for men who with razor-sharp focus and dogged determination did what John F. Kennedy called for: a man on the moon.

But I was ten and my world was bounded by a few backyards, maybe a neighborhood, as far as my bike could go or was allowed to go. I went to school, watched Gilligans Island, played Capture the Flag, bothered my sisters, and generally grew up, and the space program was relegated to the periphery of my vision (perhaps for good reason, as I would have made a lousy engineer and even worse astronaut). God gave me smaller dreams. But to some He gives big dreams. I have met a few of them. They are passionate, focused, and at times obsessed. And not always very good at much else. But they can fly you to the moon. They can do that.