If we colonized Mars, and we probably will, how long do you think it would take for us to make a mess of things there? Not long, right? We take our problems with us because we are the problem.
The movie "The Martian" was on cable TV the other night, just as I was beginning to emerge from a week in bed due to a virus that wasn't even COVID. (I had almost forgotten that there are, in fact, other viruses out there!) Except for falling behind in work, it wasn't a bad week to disappear into bed. With a national baby formula shortage, continued rancor over the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade, the horrific mass shootings in Buffalo, and more-rancorous-than-ever partisan politics, even the notion of being trapped on Mars didn't look so bad, especially if you manage to remember how to grow potatoes.
At the more personal level, we've had a series of, let's call them "challenges" in recent weeks, including the need to replace a totaled car (no one was hurt), my mom breaking her thumb (that did hurt), various cable and internet outages, and lingering small-scale claims and home repairs from last year's Hurricane Ida. These kinds of things always take longer than they "should" to resolve. So, although we do have a lead, the car is not yet replaced. My mom is about halfway to having the plaster cast on her arm exchanged for something less restrictive. And the internet is out -- again.
On the upside, a new insurance adjuster revised our claim, and a contractor has been hired. Better yet, our youngest daughter -- the one who graduated with a degree in chemistry last year -- has finally ended a nationwide job search and happily accepted a full-time lab job with benefits 10 minutes away. Her title, Forensic Scientist I, sounds a lot more like who she really is than "restaurant host" ever could. But we are wondering what she'll have to talk about now that she's left all the dining drama behind her. Again, being stuck on Mars has its advantages.
There's a point at which all the difficulties we face here make us long for life somewhere else. We try to address that with getaways and do what we can to make the best of it and muddle through when getting away isn't possible. But, in the end, there's something about us -- something in us, really -- that doesn't fit where we are. And that's because we were never made to remain here.
Mars isn't far enough away from the bonds of earthly existence. "The Martian" storyline only works because Matt Damon was there alone. If we colonized Mars, and we probably will, how long do you think it would take for us to make a mess of things there? Not long, right? We take our problems with us because we are the problem. We can't save ourselves. We need a Savior. One who can save us from ourselves, one who can turn things right not only around us but inside us.
At the beginning of the Easter season, our readings remind us that death does not have the final word, Christ does. Jesus appears and reappears after the Resurrection to show us that life and love are stronger than death. He shows up in all the old familiar places: the Upper Room, along the road, at the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and finally on the Mount of Olives. He eats and cooks. He breathes on his disciples, explains the Scriptures to them, and shows them the wounds of his crucifixion.
And almost as if he had never called them before, Jesus calls his disciples to follow him again. But this time, it isn't into Samaria or Syria, Jericho or Jerusalem. This time, it is to the ends of the earth and the kingdom that lies beyond even that. Jesus calls all those who follow him to heaven.
And so, in these waning days of Easter, we look heavenward, not to Mars but to Christ in glory and at the right hand of the Father. We have seen the stone rolled away. We have entered the empty tomb. We have eaten and walked with Christ alive among us. But like him, we cannot stay here. We can manage what comes as we wait for him to make all things new. But when he does, we will leave all this beautiful world of struggle and suffering behind and leap into his everlasting arms.
- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and provides freelance editorial services to numerous publishers and authors as the principal of One More Basket. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.