The Space of the Kingdom of God
Accepting the universal belief that the '80s was the best decade for popular music, few people would argue that anything since can rival it. Bruce, Bono, Billy Joel, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Sting, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Prince, and Tracy Chapman reoriented the poetry and pulse of modern music. One modern sound, however, could join their ranks.
Coldplay's airy melodies match the theocentric themes and engaging spirituality that swim elegantly throughout its songs. The light weight of the symphonic blends stands out among much of the lightweight competition on the radio. It's no wonder that a former astronaut recently penned a review of one Coldplay hit that skyrocketed in the charts and kept him grounded while he was out in space.
Scott Kelly, who traveled on four space flights including a yearlong mission on the International Space Station, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that he would always be sure to have the song Speed of Sound to enjoy while looking out the space shuttle's seven-window observatory as his vessel cruised at 17,500 miles per hour, orbiting the earth every 90 minutes. Trafficless travel has its benefits.
Kelly's words poetically describe the beauty he experienced:
From space, Earth's color is the most beautiful blue you've ever seen. You don't see political borders, just shapes of continents. Everyone appears to be part of the same country. The pollution over Asia is obvious. So is the devastation that loggers have done to Brazil's rainforest. You get a sense that the planet needs protecting (The Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2017).
In no way was Kelly politicizing. In fact, if anything, he was theologizing. Perhaps his view of creation is God's view: Everyone appears to be a part of the same country—God's country which is the Kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurated. Is it any wonder that God's word just last Sunday at Mass called us to protect widows, orphans, and migrants? Lonely old people, needy children, and nationless families all yearn to be reclaimed as members of the one Kingdom that is God's. As its governors, we are impelled to reach out to complete this mighty work.
St. Francis de Sales once wrote that "nothing is small in the service of God." As Kelly ingested the magic of creation from space, he saw, in one view, how the Earth can be both small and large at the same time. As one vast human family, we are responsible for each other and for the care of creation. The opportunities to respond to this great charge are endless and usually found in the smallness of living: respecting others, telling the truth, refraining from idle gossip, recycling, conserving water and energy, and minimizing our footprint in the created environment and in the emotional environments of others.
Few of us will ever have the opportunity to see the world from space, but we all have the chance to see the world as God does: through the eyes of love for one human family.
What a fine way to make music together.