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Astronaut Mark Kelly flying on a wing and a prayer

Astronaut Mark Kelly, who will command the space shuttle Endeavour after all, delivered a powerful message at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday. He said something good can come of the Tucson shootings and his wife's struggle for recovery. That's true in Tucson and...in Egypt.

By / February 4, 2011

Astronaut Kelly listens to U.S. President Obama speak at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Feb. 3. Mr. Kelly is the husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from the Tucson shootings. Kelly also spoke at the prayer breakfast.

KEVIN LAMARQUE/Reuters

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I watched a video clip today of Mark KellyGabby Giffords’s husband – speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday. The astronaut was talking about his congresswoman wife, of course, gratefully reporting on her steady progress. He also talked about the profound effect of her shooting on his own faith.

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“Maybe something good can come from all this,” he found himself telling her a few nights ago. “Maybe it’s our responsibility, maybe it’s your responsibility, to see that something does,” he said to those at the breakfast.

As Mr. Kelly continued, I found my thoughts orbiting away from the Tucson shootings to the demonstrations in Egypt, applying the astronaut’s comments to that uncertain situation. Something good can come from these protests. And, as Kelly said, goodness does require a common responsibility to work for it. In Egypt, it means a joint effort by demonstrators and also by leaders to respond to the protesters’ calls for freedom and a better way of life.

Kelly went beyond human responsibility, though, to add prayer as an active force for good. He asked that the nation keep his wife in prayer, because “it’s helping.” And by prayer, he explained, he didn’t just mean petitioning, but also listening, and giving gratitude. Again, I thought of Egypt.

The astronaut’s remarks sent me to the other side of the world, of course, because of their universality. Working together, listening for the way, giving thanks – these are ways that individuals can move entire countries forward, or just themselves and their communities.

Kelly will announce later today that he intends to accompany the space shuttle Endeavour on its last flight after all. The view from space communicates in an instant the messages that Kelly delivered on Thursday. Precious few of us have the privilege to see that view. I’m glad Kelly shared it with us this week.

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