That's about one of the most marvelous posts I've ever read... not just from you, and not just on that subject. I'm thinking now of going out and buying a hat just so I can take it off to you.
When I was very young, living in middle of the corn fields in central Indiana, I remember laying out late at night on a cot along side my mother, looking up at the sky. She had an amazing and beautiful way of making people feel significant. Confronted as we were by that infinite sea of stars, one would tend to feel so small and pointless. Yet, looking up and listening to her made me understand the unlimited glory of just being alive.
This seeded in me a sense of belonging and worth. Years later, when Neil Armstrong made his historic walk on the moon, I never once regretted I could not do the same thing, because I knew in my heart that I was walking right along beside him.
Through the years, like you, I've followed our space program and never lost my sense of joy and wonder. Some others may believe it is a waste of money. After all, how many mouths could be fed with all the money we spend sending human and mechanical explorers off into space? Others would argue that our space programs result in technological advances which ultimately benefit us beyond the initial cost. I've never bought into this argument. I believe instead that exploration feeds a far more important hunger, and it is that of the human spirit. Anyone who had a mother like mine would have no trouble understanding this.
After she was long gone and resting peacefully in her grave, I wrote a poem about her, the last lines of which were:
...not whispering, but talking loud and joyous,
as if Being is exalted by Eternity,
and not diminished.
Thank you for your lovely post. It made me cry.