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One small step

A Christian Science perspective.

By Colleen Douglass / April 24, 2009



I
The whole earth gasped its collective breath,
captivated as the eagle soared high above the desert.
She overshot her mark, headed for craggy craters
instead of the Sea of Tranquility. Her alarms screeched
bedlam. Computers ceased performing crucial tasks.
Automatic pilot and diversion cost a pretty penny.
The commander seized control, then coaxed his bird
to a softer nest. With fewer than thirty seconds of fuel,
"The Eagle has landed!" pealed across the airwaves.
Nearly weightless, Neil planted his left boot on lunar dust
where none had trod before. "One small step for man,
one giant leap for mankind."

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II
One step – none more vital to prove his point.
Jesus set right sandal on the Sea of Galilee.
He'd gone to meet the disciples' fishing boat
sailing for the other side. Though storm bullied,
what was that to him? He read the signs of the times.
"Is it a ghost?" "Be not afraid," the Master said,
"Come," when Peter beseeched, "Bid me come unto thee."
The fisherman took three steps, maybe four, then
marked the red and lowering. Bewitched by advancing danger,
his focus off the Christ, the waves roiled as he began to sink.
"Lord, save me." Jesus lifted the faithless.
One step said it all. He could have walked forever.

III
What gesture will you make today? Stretch left foot
on terra firma to convey God-given dominion over visible error,
over sin, disease, and death? Or lead with right upon the sea
to stamp out error's source? Neither boot prints embedded
on lunar surfaces, nor Hubble lens turned to the skies, reveal the Divine.
Jesus' simple stride put matter in its place, proved Spirit's supremacy.
He trod on anarchic matter, calmed the mounting tempest, healed
insanity, palsy, leprosy, blindness, brought Lazarus home,
foiled the grave himself. "The kingdom of heaven is at hand,"
right here, right now – not there, not when. Walk toward Christ,
as Peter did, and never turn to a storm. Then you, too, will take
"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

April is National Poetry Month in the United States, and this July will mark the 40th anniversary of the first walk on the moon.

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