Flying Vulnerably

Blog Published: February 4, 2015
By Sister Julie

6:55 a.m. I have never been a skittish flyer, but with the horrific violence in the news this morning, I feel somehow more vulnerable, more capable of being broken. As I stand on the icy cold bridge to the impossibly small airplane, I think about how much trust I have to put in the people around me – the pilot, the people plowing the runway, the air traffic controller, the women and men sitting around me. Do they know what they are doing?! Do they know how precious life is? It’s ridiculous because of course the answer is yes, yet my confrontation with the precariousness of life makes me worry.

It’s been my habit for years to pray an old prayer from the Eucharistic liturgy as the airplane I’m traveling in takes off. The words of the prayer end, “never let me be parted from you.” On this particular morning, I feel the power of those words more than ever. As the airplane negotiates the swirling snow on the runway and then leaves the earth, I pray and I name my beloveds – my family, my nuns, my friends, my community online and offline, my God. (Do they know that I love them?)

The airplane is trembling just as much as I am as we climb higher into the sky. The darkness of the pre-dawn world is transformed into the thickness of cloud. I worry, I pray, and I name my beloveds.

And then I look out the window. Behold! A deep blue sky, the moon, and rolling fields of clouds! I see some of the most stunning beauty I have ever seen! This window is no TV screen or monitor through which I am viewing things remotely. I am in the now. I am right here with all this beauty surrounding me!

The return to earth is a necessary one, and we are just minutes away from our descent. My prayer is that in the midst of worry and violence, we may not give into despair, that we might allow the beauty to overwhelm us instead. Some days, that beauty might not be so evident or graspable – but I do believe that the very act of endeavoring to hope is itself one of the most remarkable acts of beauty.

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