Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Lesson From Apollo 17 - Send A Moon Beam!

A few years ago I watched (on and off) a televised weekend marathon of the Tom Hanks miniseries, From The Earth To Moon.  As a child, I was very much interested in the Apollo space program; this series provided excellent dramatic re-enactments of each Apollo mission. He included some interesting details of actual events that helped me see the humanity of those involved in each mission. For example, we all know that Neil Armstrong was the first one to set foot on the lunar surface - "One small step for man..." Apollo 11. Meanwhile, fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, had brought a tiny Communion kit that he was given by his church; he prayed and partook of the bread and the wine inside the LM (lunar module). I never knew this! Many other interesting moments! One of my favorite scenes highlights the "last man on the moon" - Gene Cernan of Apollo 17. The movie depicted it a bit differently; here's how Gene describes his last moments on the lunar surface:

...While Jack cleaned up inside, I drove the Rover about a mile away from the LM and parked it carefully so the television camera [remotely operated by Mission Control on Earth] could photograph our takeoff the next day.  As I dismounted, I took a moment to kneel and with a single finger, scratched [my daughter] Tracy's initials, T D C [Tracy Dawn Cernan], in the lunar dust, knowing those three letters would remain there undisturbed for more years than anyone could imagine.

"To the Moon: Last Man on the Moon." Nova Online. Nov. 2000. 17 July 2006 .

This brought to mind how our own loved ones (family and friends) have such a special place in our hearts - that there is no distance that love cannot span. Even as he performed his final duties on the moon, Gene was thinking of a unique way to say "I'm thinking of you right now… I love you" to his daughter. I think Cernan said he was going to send his daughter a "moon beam" - and that's how he did it. Mission accomplished! I'm sure whenever Tracy looks up at the moon she's reminded throughout her life of her Dad's unique gift to her - "My Dad wrote my initials on the moon!". I'm learning that there's always time in the midst of everyday busy-ness to find a way to let others know how dear they are to our hearts and send a "moon beam" - a letter/card, e-mail, phone call, flower or special gift, etc. that says, "I was thinking of you".

 On a spiritual level, a beautiful realization is that we are also on God's mind, on His heart; before anything was made, we were on His mind. That is truly awesome. Each shining star, fragrant flower, ocean wave, etc carries the hidden message from our Creator "When I created this, I was thinking of you, dear child". Moment by moment He sends His love. He surprises us with good gifts. As we draw closer to His most pure and loving Heart, we will see our names have been written there from eternity.


  1. This article mentions that Eugene Cernan scratched his daughters initials : TDC in the lunar dust at the end of the Apollo 17-expedition.
    I would very much like to get a picture of this - is that possible ? ?

  2. I don't believe that there are any pictures available. Perhaps some of the unmanned lunar probes have managed to capture this. If they did - I would love to have a picture, too!