Right now I am in a most dreadful place. I am in San Antonio, TX. It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with San Antonio; I simply have a personal prejudice. As I walk to the shoppet down the street I am bombarded with unpleasant sights. I see uniforms dormitories with three levels stretched down the road. I see young “trainee’s” marching from building to building. I see freakishly mutated rabbit that are indigenous to this area of the country. These sights are all reminders of my 7 week stay here at Lackland AFB almost three years ago. This is where I went to Basic Military Training and I’m staying in a lodging facility within walking distance of the Basic Training area of the base. That is the explanation for my prejudice, because Basic Training was not fun and is not something I like to reflect on too often. I can’t say I enjoy reliving those memories as I might others. This is off the topic at hand. I flew here to do two-weeks of training. Many in my unit had the privilege of doing there trainging in Germany, some in Florida, and other nice places. I get sent to the place that every Air Force member has many bad memories form. As you may understand now, I was not the most enthused about going here.
I’ve said all this to help you understand my state of mind as I was on the flight down here. I had many problems that I had been dealing with prior to the flight and many of them were left unresolved and may have had some serious impacts on my stay here. So I was not in the best of moods when suddenly the captain turned on the fasten seat belt sign. I was a bit curious because we hadn’t started our descent yet. He came over the intercom and told us that there was a large storm over San Antonio and we were going to be experiencing turbulence on the way down. I have been on many flights before this and hadn’t experienced any significant amount of turbulence ever. I can say that I have now. There was a lady to my right who began to grip the arm of her seat and tightly shut her eyes. I imagine she was probably praying, which I must confess I said a prayer or two during this event as well. I did have a different attitude though. I kept my eyes wide open the entire time because I was amazed at the complexity of the clouds that surrounded us. They were beautiful. They were thick and full and rippling all over one another. I had never seen clouds that looked like this before. It was amazing. Then it hit me. The lady to my right couldn’t see any of this. She couldn’t be moved by the magnitude of the natural power that literally consumed us. It was an experience that she will explain quite differently than you’re reading now.
I suddenly realized that this is one of those memories that I have to download into my brains hard drive for easy access. This is a perfect sappy sermon illustration. (Warning: now going into sermon mode) You see all of life is like this experience. Different events are explained in different ways by those who experienced them because they have different attitudes. There are those with white knuckles holding on for dear life, and there are those who simply enjoy the ride. I was not, nor should I ever be, the captain of the plane. I had absolutely no control over the events which surrounded me, but I did have control over my attitude. I could do nothing to make the plane ride smoother, but I did know that the captain had instruments that allowed him to see through the clouds. He could see the altitude of the plane, how level it was, how fast it was going and many more things that I had no idea of. I shouldn’t have been in control of the plane because even if I could see the instruments I would have no clue as to how they are read. I trusted the pilot of the plane, and because I allowed myself to trust him, I was able to enjoy everything around me; even those things that made the ride bumpy were amazing to see.
There are many who get tangled up and discouraged by so many things in religion and theology. There are a lot of hard questions with even harder answers. Sometimes we can get so caught up in these issues and trying to make things right and smooth that we miss the joy that is supposed to be at the center of our very beings. We forget Christ. The same thing happens in life. We get so busy and so worried with life’s issues and problems that we forget Christ. I know this to be true because I know so many Christians who have no joy. So to end this I will leave you with a quote from St. Ignatius.
“For let us either fear the wrath to come, or let us love the present joy in the life that now is; and let our present and true joy be only this, to be found in Christ Jesus, that we may truly live. Do not at any time desire so much as even to breathe apart from Him. For He is my hope; He is my boast; He is my never-failing riches…”