The Eaglets Fly, Curiosity Lands, and Why We're Still Looking for Home

The day that Curiosity landed on Mars was the day I saw the eaglets fly the nest. I was deeply moved by both.

He is perched about 80 feet from his nest. 

The eaglet flies to join his parents on their favorite fishing reef

I know why the eaglets left their perfect circle of a nest---searching for food, the enterprise that will consume them all the days of their hopefully 30 year long life. (Amazingly, in 12 weeks they have grown from hatchling to a majestic, airborne predator). 

 Why did Curiosity, NASA's rover, leave earth? The project director, Dr. Jon Grotzinger wrote this in a New York Times editorial:

“Proust reminds us that the real voyage of discovery consists of not just seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. The extraordinary perspective that Curiosity will provide may some day allow us to understand  . .. something about ourselves and where our deepest roots may lie.” 

Where are our deepest roots? Where do we find new eyes? Will we find them on Mars?  Or perhaps it is better to look here, at our own labors on the ground we're planted in. 

Here are some of my labors these past two weeks at fishcamp:

Chopping wood, making chips for the smoker.

(Glazing the red salmon strips before they go into the smoker.)

Fishing with my (visiting) daughter, Naphtali

Retrieving a toilet seat that washed up on the beach, complete with all parts duct-taped to it! (Sorry to whoever lost this essential item . . .)

(Filleting a 50 pound halibut for dinner, and the freezer)

Yet, for all this cheer and activity, it’s been a hard 2 weeks as well, with mostly rainy days, with a bout of sickness, sadness and the claustrophobia that comes from months on an island with little movement away. (None of this photographs well.)

Tolkien, the author of Lord of the Rings, a master of faraway places, has written, "We all long for (Eden), and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’."  

He is right. We are all "soaked" with the "sense of exile." For me, even when living deeply in place, rooted in the God-made earth and sea, it's not a paradise here—or anywhere else. It’s just home. Even that isn't enough.

So we venture into space, to other planets, looking . ..  I am wildly excited to see the data that will soon begin beaming back to earth from  Curiosity. (This first photo took my breath away. This is not the Mojave desert: this is Mars!) 

Was there once water on Mars? Did life once exist on the Red Planet? What happened to make it so inhospitable? 

While I am breathlessly follow the posts and photos over the next two years, One thing I know. Whatever data comes back will not answer the questions we most want and need to know:  Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here?

We have to ask these questions. It’s essential to keep searching. It is our exile, our restlessness, the brevity of our joys, the endurance of our pains that teach us more is coming, wholeness is coming. We will be healed, earth will be healed, Eden will return. It is the waiting and the longing that prepares us for that day.

Until then, every interplanetary photo, every flight of an eaglet, every breathless scientific breakthrough thrills me,  giving me new eyes, enlarging my view of God---and reminding me who I am, who made me, where my true home lies:

Not here. Not yet. But soon. 
And it will be more, 
more, more 
more than anyone, 
even Science, 
can imagine. 

 Almost Home.