This week, I was traveling to Pittsburgh, PA where I was scheduled to give a three day presentation.
After boarding the early morning flight (6 a.m.), I sat comfortably in my seat about to doze off when the pilot informed us of the need to "abandon plane", as mechanical issues were going to force us to another aircraft.
After changing flights, securing baggage, we took off for an uneventful flight only to land in Chicago with missing my connection and putting me on a much later flight which would only give me a few hours in Pittsburgh to spare before evening Mass.
As we approached our landing in Pittsburgh, the gusts of wind were mighty as they were swaying this larger jet (737-900 series) left to right, which provides a very uncomfortable feeling for even those of us who consider ourselves ardent travelers -- being so low to the ground on approach to landing with windsheer, can proove disasterous.
As I was sitting right in front of the jump seat, both flight attendants stared me down as we were swaying in the wind. Knowing that I was a priest, one of the flight attendants looked at me and said softly: "Isn't there something religious you can do for us?" Being nervous myself, the first thing that came to mind was: "Like what? Take up a collection?"
I share this experience for two purposes. The first point is that each of us throughout our lives will experience some sort of disruption and incovnience of our normal routine. Are we open in receiving blessings from that which may transpire from this diversion or do we immediately allow our feelings to block any unforseen Grace which may present itself in a handful of ways? Even though I did not get to Pittsburgh as earlier as I had wanted, the delay gave me a great deal of time to relax, stop, shop, pray, think, reflect, read and just "slow down." It gave the me opportunity to "decompress" and "settle." As people were running from one gate to another, scrambling children and carting bags I was given the "unique" chance/opportunity to sip coffee in a rocking chair off to the side. Was this planned? NOPE Was this GRACE? You betcha!
One of the greatest lessons a Christian has to learn is to ask for the strength to LET GO and LET GOD and to remind ourselves of the old addage: "If GOD brings you TO IT, GOD will bring you THROUGH IT!" Letting GO is difficult for many, and in essence, is a UNFORSEEN GRACE that ultimately will be given to each of us if we can just surrender ourselves as Christ surrendered himself on the Cross. We realize that it is not just A CROSS, it is THE CROSS of salvation. A cross, that even in our STRONGEST MOMENT will call us to realize that we are not strong enough to endure it ourselves and that we must surrender, let GO and LET GOD be the bearer of the weight of the wood of our lives. Whether it be illness, separation, financial trouble, marital bliss, or problems with work, children -- nothing is impossible with GOD, as long as we allow GOD to take charge. As I saw flying into Chicago on a billboard: "IF GOD IS YOUR CO PILOT -- CHANGE SEATS!"
The second reason for sharing the above airline experience is that even though I am a Priest and I value and am humbled by people asking ME for prayer -- we must realize that ALL of us are called to prayer. None of us can escape the duty of being PRAYER WARRIORS for ourselves and one another. It is through our prayer that provides us COMMUNICATION with our GOD. We, togther, must make up the BODY OF CHRIST. Therefore, shifting the daily responsibility onto others to pray for us shrieks us of our own duties as Christians, as Catholics. If we are going to expect GOD to move those MOUNTAINS that are spoken of in our Scriptures, then WE MUST be willing to CHIP IN and help GOD in the process. Remember: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I AM present."
As we continue on this LENTEN season, may we ask GOD to grant us the GRACE of perseverence especially in those unforseen times that seem to "take us off track." May we also take the time each day, regardless of how busy we may be or frantic our lives may become; to offer prayers, especially those of Thanksgiving for all that we have received!
THANKS FOR FLYING!