Life Is Like a Plane Ride

This morning, I would have liked to pray about the importance of the individual, about how one person can change the world. My impression is that American society is an individualistic society, putting a high premium on the individual and his rights. There are some societies that would sacrifice the individual for the sake of the whole nation, as in “It is better that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.”

This is both the boon and the bane. That it is a boon can be seen in the many super-achievers there are in the US, be it in sports, the arts, the sciences, business, and practically in all fields of human endeavor. This is seen in the concern for the rights of the individual and of minorities. The mantra is “Looking out for Number One.” And there is the bane. The mantra can be a force for good but it can also be a call for greed, selfishness and excessive self-centeredness.

But this morning I am concerned about this individual that I am. I have always wanted to be known for my depth and range of my thoughts and insights. One of my fears has always been being exposed for the emptiness and shallowness of what I say. Last night, I was thinking about my past and there were many times I was indeed empty and shallow in the this I have done and said.

I had dreams of building and creating a legacy I could leave behind. One of the the most satisfying moments in my past was dreaming and actually building a house. The time for that is now past although I can still keep and clean house or house-sit when needed. I dreamed and actually created and managed organizations with some success. Now, I only have myself to manage and try to create some meaning in the remaining time I have.

The image of a plane in flight comes to mind. On take-off, the plane burns a lot of fuel to achieve its cruising altitude. I am reminded of the energy and stamina of my youth. Then, as the plane achieves its cruising altitude, it practically glides as it flies to its destination. I relish my years of accomplishments and achievements as I flew to places and positions in my career. Now, the time for landing is coming. The pilot cuts down on the fuel, puts out the plane’s landing gears, put the flaps in their landing position, decelerates and slowly starts coming down.

I must realize that there are things I did on take-off I cannot do on landing. I had relative freedom of movement at cruising altitude. But now I must be fastened to my seat with a belt as I land. I must realize I am arriving at my destination. I pray I have traveled well and I have done my work to arrive at the right destination.

The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
~ Jeremiah 31

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.
But some of them went to the Pharisees
and told them what Jesus had done.
So the chief priests and the Pharisees
convened the Sanhedrin and said,
“What are we going to do?
This man is performing many signs.
If we leave him alone, all will believe in him,
and the Romans will come
and take away both our land and our nation.”
But one of them, Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year, said to them,
“You know nothing,
nor do you consider that it is better for you
that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish.”
He did not say this on his own,
but since he was high priest for that year,
he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not only for the nation,
but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
So from that day on they planned to kill him.
John 11:45-56

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