I once was on a plane during an intense thunderstorm. Lightning was striking around us, the plane rocked, the woman to my left nervously clung to her husband’s arm and looked about the cabin frantically. The chaos was palpable, but not yet out of hand.
It’s a rather funny thing to observe – how people communicate when they are afraid. Anyways, an odd thing happened then, more likely a product of my imagination than a spiritual encounter, but regardless, I felt the presence of a woman holding me from behind. This voice asked me gently, “Can you accept it – death – without fighting? Would you still love God if you died right now?”
Thoughts of my then girlfriend ran through my mind. I did not like the notion of losing everything at all. Indeed, I was actually on my way to visit her, but the question was so pointed – so honest and possible – that it demanded an answer in my mind and I answered, “Yes. It would be ok.”
I smiled after answering the question, felt my anxiety and fears evaporate, and then began speaking to the frightened woman to my left to calm her.
She told me I looked familiar to her.
We landed shortly after.
I walked to grab my luggage, saw my girlfriend and it seemed ethereal, not real. She kissed me passionately but my mind was lingering on what had just happened. I’m also not fond of public affection but I digress.
We spent a couple of days together. We walked around an old antique mall. There was this lovely painting that I very much wanted. I recall that the artist had a very unique style, the way they painted horses and men walking down the street was ‘free’ rather than controlled. Colorful flares and bursts of life – I wanted it but had no means of transporting it home.
Eventually, my time with her ended, I looked her in the eyes, kissed her and got into a van that was to take me to the airport. I thought of her the whole way there, the whole way home, and as I opened the door to my house.
I loved her, kind of like how I loved the brush strokes of that artist – she was free in her nature, chaotically but beautifully so. You could sit back and watch her and rest in the sight.
About two days later she called me to break up with me.
The ‘death’ I was embraced by on the plane came in the form of disillusionment and heartbreak. But that is neither here nor there anymore.
One of the hardest things in life is to find someone to rest in and have them leave. You lose sleep. You can’t think. Tomorrow becomes a promise of more pain and sleeplessness. But the challenge remains in-flight; in the question and answering amidst rain and lightning.
I don’t really know where I’m going with my life. Actually, I believe that those who tell themselves that they know where they are going kill a great deal of life’s mystery in the announcement.
But I do know this – there is nothing better in all of human history to do than to fall in love. And I mean fall. The breaking of our expectations creates new worlds. The acceptance of this shattering strengthens us over time.
It allows us to be the smiling face of comfort on someone else’s ride from hell.
So, I ask you –
You’re on a plane, and it might go down.
What are you on your way to? What matters to you? Can you let it go?
Would you still love God if everything you loved was taken from you?
To the heartbroken I would say this:
I never wish to forget beautiful moments. It’s not as if I hold people still in the past I share with them – I just love the beauty of an honest memory. I draw music from it. Do not hate yourself for not forgetting. Find yourself strong for remembering and carrying on.
Indeed, so far my life has been a sequence of joys and heartaches and music to correspond.
I know it aches now, but if you could only hear how lovely the strings of it sound.