[Ed. Note: This posting originally appeared in Karen Kaplan’s blog, Offbeat Compassion https://offbeatcompassion.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/in-place-of-comfort-food/ – JB]
When New Horizons was churning through three billion miles of space to reach Pluto, a nine-year trek ending five years ago comforted me the whole time. Even the memory of it does. You no doubt are wondering, “Comforting?. Aren’t things like soft chocolate chip cookies with their smell trailing behind them as they come from the oven more like it? Or gentle embraces or timeless lullabies? You find comfort from frigid lifeless Pluto?”
Perhaps one person’s comfort is another’s reminder of loneliness and distancing. Let me hasten to explain lest you find this essay anything but comforting. Each time during those nine years that I paused to think about New Horizon’s progress, I pictured the spacecraft progressing smoothly and steadily toward its known and certain goal. Earthlings could patiently wait as it slowly but surely followed its predictable trajectory. Perhaps the certainty of its route ( a nonstop to Pluto) soothed me as well as the clarity of its mission and the promise of safe adventure. (I mean come on, how likely would an unidentified object nearing Pluto prompt the release of deadly aliens?)
As we connect with broader swaths of the Universe, I feel like I am being included within more of it, and that all humankind is too. I like taking my humble place within a bigger picture as I journey from self-importance to humility. Even Pluto itself has taken a like journey since 2006, taking in stride its demotion from an honest-to-God planet to a “dwarf planet”.
What is comforting you these days that might be surprising to others?
Rabbi and board certified Chaplain Karen B. Kaplan is author of Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died (Pen-L Publishing, 2014) a series of true anecdotes capped with the deeper reasons she chose her vocation. She has also recently published a collection of science fiction stories, Curiosity Seekers (Createspace Independent Publishing, 2017). She has submitted multiple entries published in Expired And Inspired.