Bon voyage, Atlantis. Tell me if you see God.

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One thing on my "bucket list" that I'm sure will never get crossed off is a trip into space. I've always been a space nerd, and so I got a little misty this morning as I watch the Space Shuttle Atlantis begin the final mission of the space shuttle program. I've often lamented, most recently in a column last year, the treasure we waste on war--especially unnecessary and pointless ones, such as Iraq--when we could have been spending those billions exploring the grandeur of the universe, even if we never get past the moon.

But it's not just the astro-geek in me that wants to go to space; my soul wants to go, too. Earth has wonders enough for a lifetime, of course, but it is a tiny corner of creation, and God's artistry extends beyond our little bubble of atmosphere.

Kate Shellnut at the Houston Chronicle reports that traveling into orbit is indeed a spiritual experience, finding believers among the ranks of our country's spacefarers. I would imagine that strapping yourself on top of a giant pile of rocket fuel would inspire prayer, but it seems the views from space are even more soul-expanding.

Even if the United States now has no way to send a person into space, I'll keep my extraterrestrial trip on my list. Maybe I'll get abducted by aliens...

Related: Exploring the heavens, Christian astronauts reflect on their Creator

To eternity and beyond