I’m sure I’ve mentioned (more times than you’ve cared to know, actually) that my kid’s in love with rockets. Every crayon/remote control/dinosaur has the possibility of blasting off into space. I swear he sees the space shuttle flying by and making fire at least twice a day. (Yesterday I got him to wear a new cute yellow rugby shirt to church by convincing him it was the same color as rocket fire.) And I humbly confess that I wrote a pretty sweet tune called: “My Name is August the Astronaut” last week and have had several opportunities to perform it before sleep times.
So, when I asked him what he wanted to pray for Friday afternoon before naptime, I wasn’t shocked when he wanted to pray for the space shuttle. I’m sure he was just thinking of it in terms of the things he’s most thankful for. What I was surprised by was my prayer. Usually, I try to take his passionate prayer requests in legit directions. And this time, the first thing that came to my mind as I began praying was Mark Kelly, who is scheduled to be the commander of the final space shuttle flight this coming April. He is also married to Gabrielle Giffords.
I prayed for him and the space shuttle, explaining that it will be hard for him to fly the shuttle because his wife is sick. Sometimes I don’t know when I’ve said too much. I don’t want to shelter August from the reality of sorrow and pain in the world but I also recognize that he’s two. And he’s ultra sensitive to scary things. So, our prayer turned into a conversation (the best kinds do). “Mama, why’s his wife sick?”
“Because she got hurt.”
“Why’d she get hurt?”
“Because…” I sighed. Do I tell him someone hurt her? Do I explain that someone was mean? “Because a sad thing happened to her.”
“Why did a sad thing happen?”
“I don’t know, August. But we should pray for them.”
Michelle Obama wrote an open letter to parents this past week, encouraging them in how they can share openly about the Tuscon shooting with their frightened and confused children. I really appreciate that. And though my kid is not at a stage where I can talk openly with him about the brokenness of this world, I’m reminded that I can always remind him about our need for a savior. He gets that we all need a hero. And for him, there’s no greater hero than an astronaut.
So I’m trying to remember that this week, as a representative in Arizona whom I had never heard of prior to last week struggles for her life and as her husband stays by her side. I can’t pray for many strangers. But I can pray for a few. And seeing as though Mark Kelly is a hero who needs our prayers, I want to offer what I can. And in doing so, I want to live in such a way that tragedies can always break my heart as much as they break my son’s. I want to point to Jesus and why we need him to rescue us, heal our world, and make our lives what they were actually meant to be…