June 19 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

7-PRAYER-ROOM-AIRPORT

Flying high or grounded? Take the time to connect with God

In the last Strong in Faith before the summer holidays, AIDAN MICHAEL COOK explores finding time in travel schedule to pray

Many of us will fly off to foreign adventures this summer. Even if we have chosen air travel simply because it is the most practical way to get where we want to go, it can still in itself be a significant, and even religious, experience.

Flying renews our wonder of creation. Although we can quickly become used to it and take it for granted, air travel provides a perspective on the marvels of the created world that few in history have been privileged enough to experience. One particular early morning flight taking off through the sunrise remains one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen. Being up among and above the clouds helps reveal the beauty and interconnectedness of every detail of creation. Flying over mountains and lakes, farms and cities, oceans and continents, we see the world in a new light: we are, in a sense, taken out of ourselves.

At the same time, however, we get a renewed sense of our self, and notably our fragility and mortality. The ground is taken away from beneath our feet and we are held in mid-air, supported only by the suddenly very abstract concepts of science, technology and the laws of nature.

By taking the ground from under our feet, flight shows us the flimsiness of material foundations. We place ourselves in the hands of the engineers who build our planes, and the pilots who fly them, and are ourselves completely helpless. We know that engineers and pilots can make mistakes, that the thin shell of technology between us and the last things is all too fallible, and so we are pushed to do that which we should always be doing: to place all our trust in God.

And what about the rest of air travel, the less romantic parts? Well, a little penance can always be profitable… And with customs checks, long waits in airports, crushed legs in economy class seating, or being stuck for 10 hours between one neighbour who never seems to have received any lessons in personal hygiene and another who has no respect for personal space, there are plenty of opportunities for penance—to ‘offer it up’. But such occasions also provide the chance to grow in patience, and love, and understanding.

Flight takes us up into the skies, towards the heavens, and even, if we allow it, to God Himself. And so instead of simply letting the world rush by this summer, let us take the chance to grow in love for our God, for our fellow man created in His image, and for the wonderful world He has placed in our care.

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