“Don’t freak out, but you’re going the wrong way.”

 

We were up at 4:00 a.m. Just a few minutes before 5, we had the car loaded, and ready to drive to the Richmond airport.

The predawn was dark, cloudy, and wet as we found our way to I-64. Next, we caught the brief merge to I-95, and then left I-95 for I-64 again.

We were in and out of rain. The temperature was 62. Chicago was the destination. No way that 62 would be waiting for us when we touched down at O’Hare International.

The Commander Supreme had coached me well on the game plan. Drop her off at the terminal with our two bags, then go park the car in the long term lot. Don’t forget my pack back, turn off the car lights, get the keys, and remember where the car is parked.

Somehow, I managed. The parking lot company even gave me a card with the lot letter and parking space number.

The shuttle back to the terminal was painless. I found the Commander Supreme waiting for me. She had successfully checked us in, but she gave me a warning, “Don’t freak out when TSA checks your ticket.”  For some reason, the ticket printed Pike/Pike no Bill or William. 

The Commander wasn’t sure if that hiccup might cause a concern with the TSA personnel. Fortunately, I experienced no hassle. Maybe the TSA Pre-check had helped.

Soon, we were called to start the boarding process. A Bombardier CRJ700 was the plane that would carry us to Chicago. Designed for regional flights, this one was part of American Airlines.

The CRJ700 was not engineered with passenger comfort in mind. 

My guess is a passenger might have more room in a one ounce container of Tic Tacs. 

Storage bins above the seats are compressed like a sandwich on a panini grill. I clunked my head on those low hanging bins as I scrunched my body angling toward the window seat.

Even my slight frame felt crunched and confined in the this small space. And that space shrunk even more when the passenger in front of me reclined his/her seat back into my knees.

The usual safety updates were given. Eventually, we were pushed out of the gate. The trek out to the departure runway took a long time. Let me state that again, the departure out to the runway took a long time, I mean a long time.

Just as we were starting to sprint down the runway, the first light of a gray dawn began to appear. 

We had been told by the pilot before taking off that we would experience some choppiness in the cloudy unsettled air, and this was true.

Gradually, the bumping around improved, and the last leg of the flight was smooth and tension free. Our approach into O’Hare took us out over Lake Michigan, and soon the skyline of the city was in view.

This trip was for a birthday celebration for our grandson, Hudson, who was turning one. No doubt, his first year of life had flown by for his family.

But in truth, time flies by for everyone. 

Time only has its wings clipped when we reach the end of our paths, our roads, our directions, our journeys.

I have always been intrigued with the science of flying, but always thankful when the plane safely lands at our destination.

But as we all know, journeys in life do not always end well. 

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Sometimes in life we go in the wrong direction.

This past week, I heard an interview where a person stated, “Remember, life isn’t a straight-line.”

Tomorrow is Sunday, April 14. It is Palm Sunday. Turns out, this will be a Palm Sunday not soon to be forgotten. 

Palm Sunday in Chicago was miserably cold, gray, and wet with what could only be described as a misplaced winter snowstorm.

After attending church at St. James Lutheran, we went to brunch at the Blue Door. 

From our table, we could watch the fury of the famous windy city winds furiously tossing snowflakes. 

When brunch was over, our walk back to the car put us in the direct path of the wind’s temper and blowing snow. We were miserable. Once at the car, our three year old granddaughter, Caroline, commented, “We should have stayed at home!”

We all laughed and agreed. Leave it to a child to have the clear perspective and assessment.

Holy Week is here. I need clear perspective and assessment. 

I must confess, I’m not sure I always understand this walk, this journey, this end that Jesus is approaching. 

Part of me believes, someone should have nudged him.

 Excuse me, Jesus, but I can see the worried look deep in your eyes. I sense you are going in the wrong direction. Maybe you and your father need to talk a bit more about this straight line you are following.

I think God and Jesus did talk, but there was no wavering, no backing down, no adjustment, no compromise. 

Sadly,  the fear of not understanding Jesus fueled this uncivil environment he entered. Mankind’s irrational meanness was not absent. No matter the good in Jesus, his time had come.

In the movie, An Officer and A Gentleman, actor Richard Gere reports to Aviation Officer Candidate School. There he and his fellow recruits encounter an exceptionally tough Marine drill instructor portrayed, by actor, Louis Gossett, Jr. 

The hopeful jet pilot and the drill instructor have a turbulent relationship. 

In one pivotal scene, the drill instructor attempts to berate the candidate into resigning, giving up his chance to become a pilot. 

No matter the harsh verbal approach taken by the drill instructor, the aviation candidate stubbornly holds fast to his straight line. He will not resign.

Finally in exasperation, the drill instructor forces the resignation stating, “That’s it—your out!”

An emotional outburst comes from the aviation recruit, who strongly responds to the drill instructor:  “Don’t you do it, don’t you do it—I got nowhere else to go, I got nowhere else to go!” 

Jesus had nowhere else to go. 

The path, his road, his journey, his final destination was the cross.

Outwardly, Jesus didn’t freak out. 

I sense in his heart, Jesus knew he was going the wrong way.

I would have skipped out.

He didn’t.

Sacrifice.

Psalm 22:  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

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