En route to Vancouver, turbulence tosses me, jiggling my legs, lifting my stomach, shaking my hands. The flight attendants strap into jump seats. The pilot nose dives the plane, searching for smoother air. Closing my eyes, I imagine.
In my fantasy life I live in a big old farmhouse, ten miles outside of Charlottesville, VA. Sizable oak trees, a gurgling creek, chirping crickets, and a lush, deer-and-slug-free garden frame generations of beloved people coming and going in steady and whimsical rhythms alike. Meals are often eaten outside at dusk, mosquito-free, with fireflies twinkling and breezes lilting.
My reality life, however, looks and feels a lot more like this plane ride. Today there's known purpose in my journey, I'm buckled in, enjoying snacks, and not airsick, but the cultural turbulence is real, and I feel it in the day in and out--in my own life and my friends' and family's lives. In the big picture, the sexual craziness doesn't seem to stop; last night I read an article about how only 48% of teens identify as "exclusively heterosexual," even as another article spoke of an increase in "genetic sexual attraction" (GSA). Add pornography into the mix, and my heart sinks for friends struggling to parent. Mercy. Then I'd read an update from my family in the Middle East about the Syrian beggar women among whom they minister; their pain stories fry my circuits. Even my buoyant, ever emotionally present sister-in-law can only take so much. Meanwhile, as a backdrop, the election process rumbles on, threatening like a pending deep sea earthquake to send a tsunami. Sexuality, suffering, and politics are just the obvious storms. But taken together, with their gritty and personal implications, such turbulence can leave me running to my Angry Birds Bubble Breaker game.
Yet, at this moment, up in the clouds where the pilot has again found smooth air, I recognize that I am somehow grateful if not for the turbulence, at least for some of the effects of it. The shaking in our culture and my own life (particularly the shocking deaths of my two nephews in the last 8 years, or in a different vein, still being single at 51 in spite of multiple predictions and prayers to the contrary) has forced me to a level of dependence on Jesus Christ that I never knew I wanted. The turbulence has opened my eyes to the ripping reality of death, the power of an ever-deepening hope in heaven, and the discovery of the surprisingly satisfying fruit one's life can bear, even spouse-less. Mostly, extending the metaphor to its over-used and sometimes cheesy state, the turbulence has sent me clinging to the Pilot.
But I mean this with the pathos of a woman who has found herself knocking metaphorical Air Marshals out of the way, banging down locked doors, prying and praying her--my--way into the cock-pit/Holy of Holies where I've needed above all else to sit at His feet. It turns out He is not nearly so worried as I (smiling, He quietly mentions that the door was actually unlocked). Mostly, He is glad that I've come. His presence settles me. Eventually, I stand, grin at the wary flight attendants, and retake my seat.
Given the choice, I'd probably still choose my fantasy life--it's woven with a longing for a new heavens and earth. But right now, this terrestial pilot is once again asking for seat belts. And as my plastic cup of water sloshes on my jeans, I realize how deeply grateful I am for where, and with Whom, this turbulent journey is headed.