Earthrise
Earthrise

Sometimes, when I go to sleep at night I find myself floating in space. In front of me hangs a great blue-white jewel, like a huge agate, set on a black velvet back ground and occasionally with a sprinkling of diamonds around it.

In 1948, the year I was born, Fred Hoyle wrote, “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available … a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.”

And then, on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968, twenty years later Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit. That evening astronauts Borman, Lovell and Anders held a live broadcast showing pictures of the Earth and moon. Lovell said, ‘The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.’ Super scientists and astronauts call this idea Overview.

I was there with my Dad, glued to the TV, on that evening of 24 Dec 1968, watching the pictures and hearing the voices from the moon. It was awe-inspiring. To see our homeworld from this perspective, from outside, was truly ecstasy.

To get away from home, hang above the Earth as the astronauts did , is not something most of us can do although it would be wonderful if we could. They were so fortunate. It would show us the overview of “spaceship Earth”. Unfortunately, most of us have our noses stuck up against life so close we can’t see anything clearly, it’s all magnified out of perspective and all coloured with all our personal stuff. But the shaman can go there in journeying and this is what my Dad taught me to do. It’s not the same as going physically in a space ship, in some ways it’s even more intense because you have nothing surrounding you, no container, you are hanging out there, just you, with no protection, you are truly in space. It really does change the way you look at things.

The Earth is just so beautiful and watching beauty has such a terrific effect. Seeing your home, the place where you live, hanging like a great blue jewel set on black velvet is incredible. It really does let loose a whole new way of thinking. And it brings home what one of the astronauts (and Joni Mitchell in her song “Woodstock”) says, “we are stardust” so you absolutely know it to be true … and that makes you feel utterly connected to everything else that lives.

Sometimes, when I go to sleep at night …