A Journey to Mars

On July 30th, NASA launched their Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover.

This little rover has an exciting job of exploration and research in front of him. But Perseverance has a long way to go. He won’t actually land on Mars for another 7 months! If rovers have feelings, Perseverance might be feeling a little restless and impatient on his long journey.

In many ways, the past 7 months here in Berlin have felt like a journey to Mars. The world has changed from what it was back when I landed in Berlin some of those changes have affected the process of settling into life here. There have been moments that have felt like I'm confined to a spacecraft hurtling through space.

Summer has come and gone here in Berlin. I’m learned that summer vacation is an important part of German culture. It's not just the kids’ school that goes on break, all of life seems to slow to a relaxed pace. Normally I would love this - what kind of crazy person doesn't love a break? But this time I felt my american-self was quivering with impatience for everyone to just hurry up and get back into town and for things to start back up again. Weren't we all just stuck in quarantine?!

If I'm honest, it's not just the slowness of summer that has got under my skin. It's the slowness of language learning and making friends and getting to know my church and actually putting some roots down in my new city.

The German word for "break" is "Pause" (Paus - ah). If I'm not careful, I can mistakenly think that a giant pause button has been pushed and I can't fulfill my role until my new friends come back into town or church activities start back up again.

What is being reiterated in my heart during this time of “slowness” is that my definition of success needs work. This time can be beautiful and purposeful if I lean into Jesus and get a glimpse of his perspective. He is not on Pause.

I tried to learn what Perseverance is doing during these next 7 months in his spacecraft. I wish I could say I found something profound that fit my analogy. “Perseverance Learns Martian Language While in Flight” or maybe something about how the journey is more important than the destination.

I didn’t.

What I did find is that his spacecraft isn’t simply cruising on an interplanetary lazy river. This is not a risk-free journey. There are countless small, technical tweaks that are being made by the engineers at NASA to get Perseverance exactly where he needs to be on the Red Planet.

Meditating on Who is navigating gives me courage today.