Friday, June 10, 2005

It makes perfect sense to me...

If you were to read this story, you'd read how two America West pilots were convicted of being drunk while in the cockpit - the equivalent of an aerial DUI. An excerpt:
Cloyd, 47, and Hughes, 44, were arrested after security screeners smelled alcohol on them. Their plane had just been pushed back from the gate when police ordered it to return.

Assistant State Attorney Deisy Rodriguez had called the defendants "stumbling, fumbling" drunks who put 117 passengers and crew in grave danger.

The pilots maintained they were not operating the aircraft because the Airbus 319 was being pushed by a runway tug and its steering was disengaged at the time it was ordered back to the terminal.
Now, that kind of rationalization and justification made perfect sense to me. I've used variations on that line of reasoning any number of times, sadly. Of course, today my question would be, How the hell did they get into the cockpit and actually push away from the gate? I'm thinkin' somebody still needs to get spanked for actually letting them on the plane...

But make no mistake: while what they did was awful, I really have no room to judge them. My history shows that I am no better than they - because I drove tens of thousands of drunken miles before I got sober 14-plus years ago. My behavior was no less potentially deadly - the stakes were just a bit lower in an '83 Celebrity than in an Airbus A319. I just didn't get caught. But if life was truly fair, I'd be in jail for a long, long time.

Why is this story important, early on this Friday morning?

Well, it's important because of the perspective it brings.

At 11 AM Thursday morning, I would have told you that (as my friend Robin would say) I was having a day that had been FedEx'd straight from the bowels of Hell. For one brief hour, I wasn't sure whether I was going to have to quit my job or be fired - and I found that I hardly cared, at that point. It would have been humbling, humiliating, depressing, and financially devastating - but it also would have closed and locked a couple doors, and opened some others. And even that would not have been so bad, compared to those pilot's choices...

It's funny, because on my way in to the day-from-hell, I was listening to my Kansas pastor's sermon from the week he spent here in Chicago at the Homiletics Festival. His central theme was the idea that God is rarely finished speaking, just because a particular message has been delivered - by a pastor in a pulpit, by a doctor in an exam room, or even by a friend on his knees with me in prayer. Sometimes, it takes a little longer to get the message...

My friend Robin is also the same friend that Tom S. and Damien have quoted periodically as saying, "Did you drink or drug today? No? Then what the hell is your problem?" Today, I know that there is no job, no humbling situation, just nothing that is worth going to jail for. I certainly don't think I'm any better than those pilots - but by God's amazing grace I don't have to make the choices they had to make this week.

The fact is, there is lots of good news in my life, if I'm willing to focus on it. I am invited to my former seminary classmate Laila's wedding a week from today, and to Kansas for the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of my surrogate parents, Neil & MaryLou Lentz, a month from now. I have challenges, and struggles - but I also have health, friends, the love of family, and choices...and those are all good things.

And when it looked blackest today, and I thought, "I'm going to be unemployed by dinner-time," I remembered a quote my pastor used in his sermon, which he very well may have stolen from the UCC folks (who, of course, stole it from Gracie Allen...) - "Never put a period where God has placed a comma." Holding onto just that tiny bit of faith was all it took to keep on moving through the day. And it was sufficient for the day...

Today, I got the message loud and clear. As my favorite ad says,,: "God is still speaking,"

1 comment:

wilsonian said...

You're making me cry again today.

You may have been hours from paid employment, but you will never be unemployed. You are a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is who you are, not what others confirm you to be.