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On the Wings of MourningOn the Wings of Mourning
by Phil Ware

If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there.

If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.

I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night --
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are both alike to you.
(Psalm 139:8-12)

    I was sleeping late because of two very long nights back to back. I was awakened about 8:30AM CDT by the first helicopter. I tried to go back to sleep, but over the next hour and a half, several more passed over our house heading northeast. We at first thought there was a bad wreck northeast of Austin. However, no helicopters came back. The news informed us of the reason; we saw the streak of the separating shuttle as it scattered across the sky. We listened to talk about the “debris field.” We saw the trail left on radar as the shuttle broke apart and plummeted to earth. We heard from eyewitnesses, listened to the President, and prayed for the families of this tragedy.

    While I know it is a valid technical term, “debris field” seemed such a disrespectful term for the shuttle and her crew. Hopes and dreams were dashed. Horror was witnessed. Seven human beings lost their lives; hundreds of more forever had their lives changed forever. Millions have been touched by this tragedy. The “debris field” is much bigger than 100 or even 500 square miles; it stretches across our country all the way to Israel and on to India. Heartache knows no nationalities or races or boundaries.

    I can’t say why things like this happen. I have a deep cynicism for those who can glibly give “ready religious answers” for such things. That cynicism does not, however, reflect on my faith. I believe that God is gracious. After all, he entered our world in Jesus so that we would know that heaven mourns our tragedies and lived with our mortal frailties to give us hope beyond tragedy and life beyond death. So rather than nice sounding religious words, I ask that we pray for the families and the co-workers of those seven who lost their lives and all left behind families who soared with their joys and who will no doubt bear grievous wounds because of today’s tragedy. Let’s pray for those who will search for the mechanical answers to today’s tragedy.

    We’ll finish with the quote from President Bush as he eloquently spoke in the language of Scripture about this tragedy: “The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today.”

“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.

Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out one after another, calling each by its name. And he counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.
(Isaiah 40:25-26)
      Title: "On the Wings of Mourning"
      Author: Phil Ware
      Publication Date: February 2, 2003

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