It stood there in the museum like an overgrown coffee machine cartridge. Of course, it wasn’t. It was the Soyuz capsule that had taken British Astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station and back. Blackened with the re-entry, it posed a mighty sight.
Yet, after a few moments, you realise it is very small to accommodate 3 humans and all their life support systems. So, when you gaze in the hatchway, it seems extremely cramped indeed.
Then another thought arises. Despite its cutting-edge mission the capsule looks almost agricultural in its simplicity. There is no fat nor frills. Everything in Soyuz is essential, time-honoured and rugged. That’s no surprise since the Russians have flown the same basic design for decades.
My sight of the Soyuz also took me back to Pensacola in Florida. I was visiting the US Navy’s Air Museum. There pride of place had been given to an Apollo Space Capsule. I remember its exquisite build. Again, no extras yet the Apollo was one of the technological triumphs of the 1960’s.
But my key point is that the minimalist Soyuz is still going up there while the jewel-like Apollo is ancient history.
We can do something similar with our religious life. We try to adorn it will all sorts of additions, decorations and non-essentials. That’s OK to a point. But when challenged, we can forget what is crucial and choose instead the ‘nice to have’. In the end, we can die in a ditch for the trimmings whilst our spiritual ‘life support systems’ get thrown overboard.
Perhaps we all need, from time and time, to think through our core beliefs and what keeps those beliefs alive. Since that will also tell us what we can shed with only one tiny tear.