Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Control (01/30/06)
TITLE: Circuit Ridin' Preacher
By Larry Elliott
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Mitch’s favorite program from childhood, which of course he watched in syndicated re-runs, portrayed several characters with control.
Mr. Spock, now there was man in control. If one actually could control their emotions that would be a huge leap to total self control.
So started Mitch’s dream of entering the space program, but he never could have guessed where it would eventually lead.
A not so positive background in the Catholic Church, observing unspeakable atrocities of war while in the military and a continuing fascination with science fiction and science fact authors such as Asimov, Clarke, Anderson and, of course, Rodenberry made it easy to become discouraged with organized religion. So much so that in time he proudly accepted the title of agnostic and even pagan.
To advance to the level of atheist he eventually set out on a personal quest to prove there was no God. No superior supernatural deity creator of all which, from some glorious control room hidden in the heavens, manipulated everything known and unknown.
This was his biggest mistake as a non believer. Each successive avenue led him farther away from what he had come to trust as reality and left him more confused than the previous. This simply fueled his ambition to find the verification he so desperately sought after.
During this period of Mitch’s life he made his first trip into as a technician aboard a delivery ship bringing supplies to the people of US space stations Alpha and Beta.
The instant his eyes beheld the infinite majestic beauty of space something began to happen inside him, something he still cannot accurately describe. He suddenly realized he had been wrong all along. All this could not possibly have been the result of a mere accident. No, there had definitely been a design in place somewhere.
So started his second quest, to discover all he could about the designer.
Mitch found all his answers in one book. A friend in high school had told about this book many years in the past, so he acquired one and it changed his view on everything. It was though blisters were suddenly removed from his eyes and he could see everything clearly.
Mitch turned over the controls of his life to the great designer who then removed a lifetime of calluses from his heart. It was a constant battle to not take control the back.
That was more than twenty years ago.
So here he was today, chaplain for the United States Space Federation, floating around in this billion dollar tin can on his way to another space station.
‘Missionary to the Stars’ some called him, and he liked the title. He sometimes thought of himself as one of the circuit riding preachers from history books.
Except Mitch rode a metal horse packed with electronic circuitry, and his saddle was a state of the art AccuForm life support seat.
There were now seven stations total suspended over the earth, from four different countries and each one with its own agenda. At last census the stations housed a combined total of over four thousand people. Most were scientists or technicians or military personnel and most were confessed agnostic or atheist.
Although this type of person could be a pretty tuff nut to crack Mitch could relate to them.
Many of the younger residents were born in space and had never been to earth. How sad he thought, not to have personally experienced one of God’s most awesome creations.
All but one station had a chapel, typically a small five meter square room with folding chairs. All but the US stations chapels were an after thought, usually a converted utility or storage closet.
None had resident clergy as yet.
So Mitch rode the circuits from one station to the next, usually spending two weeks at each stop. After four rounds of the circuit he went home to Iowa for a month or two of ‘shore leave’.
Though Mitch never married there was this cute nurse on Beta. Sue was a Christian and chose to reside on the station as her own form of missionary work.
Mitch often looked out at the vast beyond and wondered if he would be one of the first to see Christ returning to earth.
He smiled at this thought and set his controls for the docking sequence.
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