When I see my friend Marty, and I ask him what he’s been doing, he says he’s been working on the Mars mission. The Mars mission!
Marty’s an oceanographer, and the rover is crawling now, inch by inch, with its googly camera eyes and spindly tractor wheels, over the dry floor of an ancient sea millions of miles away, and Marty sits before a screen and watches the graphs appear and the pictures come in, pixel by pixel, and he studies every granule, every speck, molecule by molecule, and he doesn’t care how long it takes—it could take months to travel across your own front porch at this rate, months to examine the light and the texture of the first thing you happen to look at when you wake up in the morning, the threads in your sheets, the angle of the sun—because this is how it should be, this slow, careful seeing, this painstaking study, entirely without judgment, entirely without prejudice or hope, even if you never find signs of life, no spark at all, only rock and sand and the ordinary granules and the wind like any other wind since time immemorial and even before, neither life nor death nor fear nor hope.
How Marty’s face lights up as he tells me. That reality is so lovely.
from Light When It Comes (Eerdmans 2016)