When we lived in Jacksonville, Florida we loved to watch the space shuttle launches. We could see them right from our drive way. We would log on to some real time web site, see the launch on the computer and then rush out to the drive way to see the blaze cross the sky and disappear into the heavens.
Jacksonville is 160 miles from Cape Canaveral, but you could still see the rocket boosters like torches zooming above the trees then over our home. During the day it was inspiring and at night it was absolutely breaktaking. We must have seen 5 or 6 launches while we lived there.
Even if the launch was late at night, we'd set our alarms and wake up Claire to make note of the occasion. We've always been the kind of family that is a bit fascinated by stuff in the sky. I was very little when my dad walked with me out in the alley explaining what a "blue moon" really was. I remember watching a Pleiades meteor shower one summer at church camp. Claire could pick out the constellation Orion when she was barely three. I even bought Jeff a reproduction of the night sky over St. Louis on our wedding night.
I watched the Columbia launch by myself two and a half years ago. It was a Tuesday, I think. Claire was at pre-school. Benjamin must have been napping. He was a tiny baby. It was a daytime launch and I stepped out into the driveway to catch it between the general busyness of the day. I never grew tired of the event.
And then of course there were no more launches. Until today.
This event is a celebration of the human spirit. Of overcoming loss and learning from it. Of setting enormous goals and reaching them. Of appreciating the miraculous scope of God's creation.