I’ve never been to outer space, but I got a glimpse of the glorious view watching the Omnimax 3D digital movie “A Beautiful Planet,” which brought the beauty of Earth from the perspective of outer space seemingly within grasp even though I was grounded in a dark auditorium. I was reminded of that experience when reading about a recent video conversation Pope Francis had with the six-person crew aboard the International Space Station.

The movie, which uses no special effects, was made in conjunction with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2016. The final product used 15 months of footage, much of it shot by the astronauts aboard the space station.

Besides the stunning otherworldly views shown in 3D, the thing that struck me first was the cooperation of different countries in this venture. The film followed a flight to the station and then activities at the site, which is now occupied by two Americans, three Russians and one Italian, a cooperation of countries that would seem unusual on the ground.

In addition, the multi-national crew in space works with teams on the ground from other countries in Europe, Canada and Japan.

During the pope’s 20-minute call last week, the astronauts told him they hope their multi-national work together in space inspires people on Earth, which from above appears borderless and peaceful.

"We hope that that example of what we can achieve together is an example for the world and all of humanity, so that as we work to get more access to space and more people can see that perspective from space, that maybe humanity’s future is a lot better than what we have now," said NASA's Randy Bresnik, commander of the six-person Expedition 53 crew orbiting 250 miles above the planet.

Francis pointed out that “our society is very individualistic, but instead what’s essential to life is collaboration.”

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, a geologist and former teacher, noted it’s “our diversity that makes us stronger. I think we need to embrace who we are as individuals, and respect those around us. And by working together, we can do things much greater than we can do as individuals.”

The ruminations of cooperation are inspired by the view from space. Our planet is a beautiful whole. Seen from outer space, there are no walls, no conflict, no borders, no political distinctions.

However, that view also shows astronauts the fragileness of earth, something Pope Francis, speaking from the Vatican, echoed.

In “A Beautiful Planet,” the amazing views showed evidence of human destruction. Smoke plumes for hundreds of miles from fires in the Amazon basin, which is being deforested for development, were evident. Also visible were pollution over China, California’s drought and dwindling water supplies due to receding snow and ice cover.

However, much of the discussion between the pope and astronauts focused on the wonders of the universe and what it means to humans.

"As you are contemplating the unbounded limits of the universe, it makes us think about where we come from and where we are going," said the 80-year-old pontiff through a translator.

Italian Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency, said, “When we speak of these eternal questions of where we come from, I remain rather perplexed. Our objective here is that of knowing our being, and to fill our knowledge, to understand what’s around us. But on the other hand, an interesting thing is that the more we know, the more we realize how little we know.”

The wonders of space seen through human eyes stirred other spiritual musings, even before those thoughts were prompted by the pope, who reminded the astronauts that they are seeing Earth “from the eyes of God,” an opportunity most people would never get.

“What gives me the greatest joy every day is being able to look outside and see God’s creation, maybe a little bit from his perspective,” Bresnik told the pope. “People cannot come up here and see the indescribable beauty of Earth and not be touched in their souls.”

With a view far from the problems on Earth, “the future of humanity looks better from up here,” he added.

At the end of their conversation, Presoli thanked the pope “for taking us higher, for bringing us out of our daily mechanical routine, to make us reflect on things that are greater than us.”

Likely none of us will ever get to view Earth from the perspective of the space station, except in 3D on a screen, few of us will ever get to talk directly to the pope and most of us won’t ever work cooperatively with people from adversarial countries, such as Russia.  

Still, at times we need to step away from our mechanical routine with all the earthly distractions and petty conflicts that take too much of our energy. Like the astronauts and the pope, we need to take a larger view, imagine Earth from the eyes of God, even if it is a figment of our imagination or a realistic illusion created by 3D imagery.

Earth really is a beautiful planet full of life, an amazingly unlikely occurrence in our vast universe that should inspire awe, spiritual reverence, even optimism for the future of humanity.

Scientists of various nationalities floating together in space aren’t the only ones who are privy to these transforming images. Just as an 80-year-old religious figure, who is known for his grounding because he still mingles with common people, can imagine the view from “the eyes of God” 250 miles above Earth without leaving the Vatican, everyday mortals like us, often stuck in a mechanistic routine, can also gain a new perspective if we just open our minds to the wonders of our universe.