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The scientific community celebrated this week as an unmanned probe flew close enough to Pluto to take clear pictures of the planet.

But some were asking the question: Why spend money on the space program?

People here on Earth are hungry, they say. We need real-world projects funded. For instance, almost half the population of India and over a million Americans live without indoor plumbing.

How can we justify space exploration when so many problems exist here on the planet?

Like so many things we can’t explain to naysayers, it really is a leap of faith.

In my teen-age years, I spent some time as part of a Pentecostal church. On Sundays, there was quite a lively service, complete with congregants “speaking in tongues” and getting “slain in the spirit.”

Often, I’d look to my left and right, and see people in pews with heads tilted back, and they were just gone. They had a faraway look, and, if you spoke to them at that moment, they wouldn’t have been able to hear you.

What were they looking at?

This summer, the Grateful Dead will hold its final tour. The fans can’t always put it into words, but the swaying of their bodies and the joy on their faces says it all. The band speaks for them with their music. Troubles are put aside, and everyone agrees to get along and get lost in the moment.

What are they hoping to find?

We’re all looking for something that gives life meaning. Connection, community, kinship. Purpose, passion, promise. That place in the world where you feel at home. That place inside where you feel hope.

“We explore because we are human and we want to know. I hope that Pluto will help us on that journey,” said Stephen Hawking.

In other words, if we reach for the stars, we might find out something about ourselves in the process. We’re not so much traveling far into space as we are deep into the soul.

What are we looking for?

Does it matter? As long as we keep the faith and keep looking, with anticipation, the journey really is the destination.

“Please let her have an easy rest-of-the-day,” I said.

Someone in my life who’s been an encourager and a real resource for me and my son was having a hectic day, so I said a silent prayer for her.

I paused in my prayer as I realized… wait a minute… she wouldn’t want that!

Not that she doesn’t want an easy day, it’s just that she’s not daunted by a hard day or a challenge. Her job is actually to problem-solve, and she does it with great aplomb. Nah, this lady loves a project.  She’s a can-do girl; she loves to get her hands on a thing that needs to be accomplished and just, well, get-r-done.  She’s a DIY sort; her idea of a relaxing vacation is tearing out the kitchen floor and doing some demo.

“Let me amend that prayer…Please give her a good rest-of-the-day,” I said to God.

When I talk to this can-do girl, I feel like she’s fully listening to me and completely on my side.  So I decided to pray that everyone she encountered would be on the same wavelength: reasonable, compassionate, and open-hearted. And that whatever situation arose, all the players would be working toward the same goal.  Now, this might not be as potent as asking God to give her a miracle or a million dollars, but I think the net effect for this can-do girl will be the same:  a good life with a sense of purpose and a feeling of community.

After all, just because a day has challenges doesn’t mean it’s not a good day. Most of the time, we handle large issues and keep on moving, but what really adds a nice vibe to a day are the small moments.  I decided to pray for unexpected interactions that lift us up or lighten our load today:

  • A fascinating project to get your hands on and keep your mind percolating.
  • A windfall of warmth so that everyone you meet today is in a wonderful mood.
  • An interesting (and respectful) philosophical discussion with strangers at the bus stop.
  • Having your bangs fall into the right place in the morning without power tools and plastered-on product.
  • A day with a “just because” friendship card in the mailbox (and not one bill or piece of junk mail.)
  • The best milkshake of your life – so thick you can stand a straw in it.
  • Pleasures – not problems – that come in threes.
  • A fluffy dog on the couch, waiting for you to pat her head.

A day filled with bona fide blessings isn’t necessarily one that’s problem-free.  It’s one you can meet where you are with prayer and persistence, secure in the knowledge that you’ll be provided with what you need to create a meaningful, marvelous life.

May you all have a good rest-of-the-day!

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