Planes as Pews

What sort of traveler are you? Are you one of those who pulls out a laptop to tap away the time? Or do you carry a thick, engaging book that keeps you glued to the story from takeoff to landing? Maybe you’re a media consumer who watches whatever is on the monitor, overjoyed with seat back and satellite versions that let you click through every sort of imaginable option. Maybe you’re short on sleep from constant traveling and use flights to catch up on shut-eye.

Except for the time I watched a riveting documentary on cheese during a long haul flight, I think of flights as a special time to be quiet and still. I take my assigned seat as if I were slipping into a church pew. This is holy space and sacred time.

Just as at church, I usually don’t know the person next to me. A nod, a smile and “hello,” sometimes a handshake are offered as if I were exchanging the peace during an Episcopal service. After that, it seems as if the hours to conform to a type of liturgy. Prelude (boarding), welcome and announcements, moments of silence (the calmness during taxi and takeoff), and prayer if a person is anxious about flying. Depending on your brand of religion and airlines, there might be “communion,” a simple meal to share with others on the journey. Before long, the plane is at the jetway and cabin crew and passengers offer greetings to one another, a lot like most reception lines after a church service.

What about the middle part of the flight?

That’s time for prayer, for meditation and reflection, for stilling the heart and mind to hear “the still small voice” that speaks today. It is during this part of the flight that I’ve experienced peace, hope, optimism, insights about situations or problems. It’s a time of taking stock, a time for the examen, as St. Ignatius guides us to include each day.

Have you had a similar experience? Would love to hear from you! Take a moment to write.

By the way, you don’t have to buy a ticket to Timbuktu in order to see a pretty good cheese documentary. While different from the one that captured my attention a couple of years ago, this one at FactualTV is rather entertaining.

© Kimberly Powell and Via Peregrini, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of photos, images, text and all other material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kimberly Powell and Via Peregrini with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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