I wonder?

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The other night we attended a production of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” and enjoyed seeing our friend Heather Hawkins on stage in the role of Varya. The program noted a comment Maxim Gorky made of Chekhov, “When in his presence every one involuntarily felt in himself a desire to be simpler, more truthful. More one’s self.”

I wonder what people feel in my presence?

On Wednesday, barring weather delays or a mechanical problem, NASA’s long wait will end, and the space shuttle Discovery will roar toward orbit once again. The launching comes two and a half years after the loss of the shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven astronauts. Since then, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has struggled on the one hand to reduce risks like that of the falling debris that doomed the Columbia, and on the other to accept the risks it cannot eliminate. I was taken by a comment made by Admiral Harold Gehman who headed the team inspecting the Columbia incident. “I’m sure that this next flight will be safer than the previous ones,” “By any measure of ‘safe,’ this is not safe.”

I wonder if followers of Jesus understand that his is a good path, but not necessarily a safe one.

In the aftermath of the last week’s terrorist acts came warnings of more to come. A French anti-terrorism expert observed, “Terrorists are not strangers, foreigners. They’re insiders, well integrated inside the country.” “In Britain counter-terrorism officials estimate the 10,000 to 15,000 Muslims living in Britain are supporters of Al Qaeda. Among that number officials believe that as many as 600 men were trained in camps connected with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

I wonder if a small group dedicated to evil can do so much damage, can a properly trained and equally dedicated cell of Jesus’ disciples deliver an equal or more powerful force for good?

Lizette Alvarez tells stories of personal tragedies and loss in London. [” The family and friends of the missing are persisting in their search, even as hope begins to ebb, if only slightly. They have scoured hospitals, handed out pictures to passers-by, contacted reporters and called the police. They double back and double check. Now, there is little to do but wait, and in some cases, talk. Karolina Gluck left her North London apartment on Thursday morning, visions of Paris swirling in her head. After eight months together, she and Mr. Deer were planning a cozy weekend trip to Paris. “A romantic holiday,” Mr. Deer called it, just him and “Sunshine,” as he calls Ms. Gluck. Ms. Gluck arrived in London from Chorzow, in the south of Poland, nearly four years ago. She was determined to master English and get a good job, Mr. Deer said. She accomplished both, starting as a receptionist at a student residence and working her way up to deputy head of receptionists.”See you later,” Ms. Gluck called out to him. Then, he recalled, she walked away, dressed head to toe in black, her blond, spiky hair bobbing up and down as she headed for the Finsbury Park subway. Her final stop was supposed to be Russell Square, near the spot where bombs blew up a subway train and a bus. He tried to call her later that morning at work, at Goodenough College, but got bounced to her voice mail. He tried her cellphone, but got bounced to voice mail again. He resorted to e-mail, but never heard back. They do not know where she is. They do not know if she is injured, dead or simply missing. “She was like a star,” said Magda Gluck, Ms. Gluck’s twin sister, slipping into the past tense¢â‚¬¦ Richard Deer, who is Ms. Gluck’s boyfriend said, “I’ve cried a lot. It’s so up and down. But she would stand out. Her hair would stand out. She was honestly very special.”]

I wonder what goes through the mind of a terrorist in planning then slaughtering innocent and special people. I wonder if humans understand that we are all stars, placed in a constellation to beam God’s glory bright. I wonder if the terrorist know he or she was special? I wonder if most of us do? I wonder what would happen if every human understood that “the glory of God is humankind fully alive?”

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub. PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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