The astronaut William Reid Pogue died recently. Born in Oklahoma, he served as an Air Force pilot during the Korean War and then joined the Apollo project in 1966. He was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 7, 11, and 14 missions. In 1973, he was appointed as the pilot for the last mission of the Skylab space station.
He and his crew held the record for the longest spaceflight for Skylab. Their 84-day mission traveled some 34.5 million miles and they accomplished 56 different science experiments as they completed 1,214 revolutions of the earth.
About halfway through their three-month deployment, Pogue wrote: “We have been over scheduled. We were just hustling the whole day. The work could be tiresome and tedious, though the view was spectacular.”
So the crew requested some time off so they could meaningfully contemplate what they were seeing and experiencing. They wanted some time to “look out the window and think.” The ground control team at Cape Canaveral erroneously concluded that the Skylab crew must have been suffering some kind of depression or medical lethargy so they denied the request and tensions mounted.
When they were unable to convince the schedulers to give them time off, Pogue and his crew staged a kind of “strike in space.” They wanted to “study the sun, the earth below and ourselves.” Eventually, ground controllers compromised and the astronauts got their time to think.
Reading about Pogue made me think about a poem by Alice Hansche Mortenson entitled, “I Needed the Quiet.” It part it says:
I needed the quiet so He drew me aside,
Into the shadows where we could confide.
Away from the bustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.
I need the quiet though at first I rebelled
But gently, so gently, my cross He upheld.
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things
Though weakened in body, my spirit took wings
I needed the quiet. No prison my bed,
But a beautiful valley of blessings instead.
A place to grow richer in Jesus to hide,
I needed the quiet so He drew me aside.
Like the Skylab astronauts, we too need the quiet. So this week, if the Lord is drawing you aside, go ahead and embrace the “shadows where you can confide.”
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel