Monday, December 12, 2011

snowflakes and flying

when the plane is preparing to take off, i confess, i am one of those who begins to pray hard.  i can't help myself.   i mean i know God and i are good and i'm pretty confident if things don't go well with the engine, my trip will probably end at the pearly gates, but still, i pray without ceasing. from the time the plane picks up speed until it is stable and steady high in the air, i close my eyes, grip my armrests,
and talk pretty intensely with God.  extra assurance? perhaps. or maybe i am just doing my very best to remind Him that though i packed for a trip, i have little interest at the moment, in a one way ticket.  and so i pray.

this past weekend, i flew to minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes and 10,000 inches of snow.  and what's best, i flew alone.  completely alone.  though i know some people don't relish this thought, i actually like to fly and even enjoy flying by myself.  a few uninterrupted hours on a plane with my book or knitting or laptop is a treat -- a retreat.  though typically kind of social and one who easily strikes up conversation with anyone or anything, it's different when i travel.  while flying, i feign terrific awkwardness and incredible anti-social behavior. i sort of like it to be just me and my thoughts in the little pocket of peace 10,000 feet above the world.  there is something quite lovely about that for a mother who usually has a dog or a toddler or a teen at arm's reach.  even the ridiculously small seats of coach feel wide open and roomy.  no one is asking anything of me.  no one expects anything more than that i buckle my seatbelt and secure my belongings.  as long as i don't tamper with the smoke detector or abuse the carry-on rules, i'm good.  i'm left, blissfully and beautifully, alone.

it probably doesn't surprise you that i am also kind of partial to the window seat.  i keep the shade up and my nose pressed against the pressurized plastic oval. perhaps not completely age appropriate, but i stare and i stare.  i look and i look.  i care little about pretending myself a sophisticated and seasoned flyer. whether it is the city lights at night or the patchwork farm fields of day, there is something to see when the clouds part.  flying this weekend i had an incredible view from my window seat.  as we came across, what i guess was the northern part of iowa, i had my eyes glued to the neutral pieces of land below.  fields and farms, dotted with solitary homes.  i couldn't help but think of those little people inside--near fires, fixing dinner, bathing children, reading books--each one miniature in my bird's eye view.  and as i was considering those hearty iowan farmers, i noticed a distinct line arcing across the land. it was a line of snow cutting straight across the fields, as far as my eyes could see; one side brown and grey, the other side pristine white.  it was so clear from my place high above.  but those tiny people below knew nothing of this massive mark, they were seeing snowflakes. crystal white--each delicate, each different.  they were holding them in their hands, catching them on their tongues, sweeping them from their porches. rejoicing or cursing, but seeing nothing more from their warm kitchen windows or drafty planked barns, but the flurries in front of their face. perhaps they also saw their children grabbing sleds or searching for mittens and boots.  perhaps they saw the family dog's nose pressed to the glass of porch door, but that was it.  limited--all of them. from their minute places they were short-sighted, and thought nothing of that expansive line looming across the wintering midwest.  the line which i could see.

it felt strange and almost serious to be able to see this distinct wrinkle of weather.  my shoulders felt inadequate with the weight of this seeing--like i was peeking into something not entirely my own business.  but it reminded me of my own limited perspective. i don't live life from 10,000 feet above, i live life with feet planted on solid ground.  i can only see the small snowflakes of life, rarely do i get a chance to look out at the width and breath of my personal storm.   how often i want to live acting as if i know what's best and what's right, me peering out from my small kitchen window, my vision stopping in its snowy tracks of human small. is it possible God allows us only to see what we can catch on our tongues and hold in our hands...because it is enough?

the truth is, sometimes when i get a glance of something greater, i am sometimes moved to fear, like that flying woman in her take off posture -- fingers a-tightening and prayers a-whispering.  God has been in charge all along.  there is no difference between my walking the dog on the quiet street of buttercup trace and myself in a plane zooming speedily down the run way.  He is in control in the mundane moments and in the seemingly dangerous.  it is my perspective which colors the scene and the sense of certainty.  His perspective and His control never waiver.  He has the whole picture in His hands.  always. 

and flying this winter weekend, i was graciously reminded again, God holds the sky and the snow and the storm and the line.

later that day, i stood at a glass pane in the minnesota cold and watched the tiny snowflakes drift down.  one by one.  and i could hear God.  "see the beauty." He whispered.  "don't worry about the storm line, but catch the snowflake. i've made you, my daughter, to see somethings small."

"nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake
 escapes its fashioning hand."   ~ henry david thoreau

1 comment:

Aus said...

Wow - but yeah - it is in the small things that we find the greatest joy - isn't it? It's the Season - so let's look at Christmas gifts. Don't get me wrong - big gifts are cool - even little ones if its "the thing I always wanted". But which is better - the gift - or the excitement and squeals and giggles of the kids finding the presents under the tree? The presents don't last - but the excitment and memories of that joy do...

Which is more rewarding - hearing your spouse tell you that they love you - or finding the coffee ready or the glass of water next to the bed when you wake up?

It's the smallest of things that bring the greatest of joys...

Enjoy your trip - and the return!

hugs - aus and co.