Safe Landings

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The opening prayer or collect last week Friday was stunning:

Almighty ever-living God, who in the abundance of your kindness surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you, pour out your mercy upon us to pardon what conscience dreads and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.

God is the Generous Giver, the One who gives more than we can ask or imagine. The days when we dare not ask, God has already prepared and is ready to gift. We often do not deserve the kindness–we cannot merit the generosity on our own. God grants our desires out of a pure and unconditional love.

This weekend I was out in lake country, sitting alone on a boat as my friends had gone kayaking. I was tinkering with my new camera, wondering how everything worked when suddenly a butterfly–a monarch, I believe–flitted within feet of me. I readied my camera and away it flew. I sighed, watching it dance for a minute before it dashed out of sight. I smiled to myself even though I had not gotten the shot I had hoped for. Suddenly it reappeared and lighted on my shoulder. Slowly turning my head, I watched it for a minute and then raised my camera and took a selfie. I had no idea if the photograph would turn out. Off the creature went and I was left wondering how often that happens.

I tend to look for deep meaning in things and had been curious if there was a message for me. Today I might have gotten my answer. I had been thinking about a friend of mine who I had not seen in almost a year, perhaps longer. I kept thinking I should catch her up on my life and she had been on my heart so I was curious how she was doing too. I pulled into a church parking lot that has 24-hour Adoration and drove by a vehicle. The woman in the SUV sure looked like my friend but I could not be sure. I stepped out of the car and rummaged through my purse for the swipe card to enter the chapel. This was my first time going and I was a little uncertain about which door to use. As I pulled out the wee map that accompanies the card, I heard her greet me by name. I was so excited.

We had this amazing conversation and at one point, as I began to tire physically, I thought, I am in Adoration now, Jesus. I see your face here. I let go of any expectations and just listened to the voice of God at work. Her story, though different than mine, had good lessons for me. When she got to the part of the story about butterflies, I was all ears. Butterflies are a symbol of transformation and of new life. The old is gone and the new is beautiful. What seems like death is really change–a complete overhaul of what was into something more spectacular. I think God is at work within both of us, pardoning our transgressions and giving us what we dare not even ask for. We have so much healing for which to give praise.

I return to that butterfly of mine who found a safe landing space for a few minutes, just resting and being a source of joy and beauty. I am unsure what the past months have been for me however I do recognize that I have had a safe place to land in the hands of God. I still need to process it all but tonight I wonder if I have been wrapped in a cocoon in the cloak of Christ and have emerged as something utterly amazing. So many people believe a miracle happened to me through their prayers. I would agree that miracles abounded along the way. I cannot wait to see what God does with all of this. |For the greater glory of God!

Peace,

Suzanne

Reflection Questions

Recall a time when you landed safely in God’s good hands. What was it that allowed you to rest there?
Has God ever arranged an encounter that answered a question that you had been mulling over?

Prayer

Generous Giver,
Your abundance flows mightily
like a waterfall down a mountainside
and yet as gentle as a
butterfly alighting on a shoulder.
You are our safe landing;
there is none other like You.
Help me to recognize the mini-miracles that
surround me daily, whispering for attention.
Fill my heart with gratitude and joy
at each glimpse of the Divine.
Give us what we dare not ask for
in your mercy and love.

Amen.

About sstyves

A Canadian prairie girl rooted in Ignatian spirituality, I seek God in all things. Whether I catch a glimpse of the Divine and delight in its presence in nature or in the beauty of an encounter with someone, I am ever so grateful that I can recognize the Creator. I greet each new day with hope and happiness, expecting blessings and miracles because I am created to praise, love and serve God. This blog is one way of realizing that through my writings, prayers, and photography. To God be the Glory!
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3 Responses to Safe Landings

  1. Safe landings
    A few days ago one of my nephews was riding down the highway at 100 kilometers per hour on his beloved motorbike. It was a 4-lane highway, divided by a concrete barrier in the middle. He was in the right-hand lane, minding his own business when the pick-up truck just ahead swerved violently onto the shoulder. In that instant my nephew swerved into the left lane, in an effort to avoid whatever had caused the pickup to go off the road, only to be met by an oncoming car, driving on the wrong side of the highway, on the wrong side of the barrier, that had just swerved there to avoid the pickup.

    It later came to light that the driver was a 93-year-old, apparently suffering from an Alzheimer’s episode, or perhaps dementia at the time.

    With no time to try anything else my nephew executed a maneuver that caused him to soar high over the oncoming car (instead of smashing through its windshield) and fly through the air (like Superman) for 50-60 feet before landing on his feet, one of which broke (not like Superman). His motorcycle was torn in half by the collision.

    He made as safe a landing as he possibly could under the circumstances, since I hear the fatality rate for motorcyclists involved in 100 kph head on collisions is on the order of 99% or worse. His safe landing was the biggest miracle ever to befall our family (at least as far as we know). I suspect there are some lessons in this safe landing for us, even though the general din of joyousness surrounding this event may be drowning them out for the moment.

    It does seem to me that God wants us to make safe landings. This is attested to by the great joy my nephew’s feat has evoked in everyone who loves or likes him. This “escaping from certain death thing” now resonates for me like no other. I now “get” an element of the apostles’ Easter experience in a visceral way I had not before. I did not expect to get this level of joy, this kind of revelation from my nephew. Nothing he has ever done (at least since the day he arrived in our house) has ever brought such intense joy to so many people at the same time.

    I suppose the skeptic might scoff that all he has done is keep on living. Why do we celebrate the life as such a miracle today that was simply a mundane “given” last week? Were we blind? Is that what it takes to get us appreciate what a miraculous gift life is? Is there some kind of “prodigal son syndrome” going on here?

    Is there a lesson in what made my nephew’s safe landing possible? He is an inveterate snowboarder who has spent years honing his skills in that area. He has put more passion into it than into all his other pursuits put together in the past few years.

    I am wondering if I have been judgemental about his single-minding nurturing of his snow-boarding talents and his lifelong enthusiasm for other extreme high-agility sports. I always admired his talents in these areas but seldom thought of them as those which shouldn’t be hidden under a bushel either. Yet last week these talents saved his life. They have allowed me to spend the past week doing the happy dance rather than wallow in a desert of desolation beyond measure. They may also have saved the life of the 93-year-old whose windshield he avoided crashing through.

    But should the Sermon on the Mount be adapted for the 21st century audience by adding “blessed are the snowboarders and extreme athletes”? And where does this end? Does Divine sanction extend to those crazy You-Tube stunts that seem more life devaluing than life affirming? My nephew says he’d been intrigued by one that involved popping a kind of reverse wheelie at high speeds, so that the motorcycle goes over on its front wheel. Even my nephew describes this as insanely dangerous, which is saying quite a lot, coming from him.

    But is there a place in heaven for You-Tube stunters? Surely it is a misuse of the gift of life to stake it all for a few moments of You-Tube glory? Surely God doesn’t really want us to do that? Surely God has better things for us to do with our time, better ways to fulfill his plan for us?
    But in the end my nephew credits this You-tube video with showing him what had to be done at his fateful moment. It was essential to his safe landing. It saved his life.

    And then too I think of Henri Nouwen’s deep admiration for that family of trapeze artists, how were they different? Surely they would have been on You-Tube too, had it existed in their time.

    It seems to me that so much of his safe landing sprang from my nephew’s essence. Split second decision-making in the face of death, the fearlessness to do the right thing at precisely the right moment, the willingness to fly through the air like Superman no matter what how uncertain the landing ahead. He was born for his safe landing. He spent most of his life preparing for it. It was on his terms.

    Perhaps this makes his safe landing of limited relevance to those whose safe landings are not on their terms. How can it be compared to those involving invasive, life or death medical procedures, that have nothing to do with anyone’s self-image and aspirations? My nephew’s body in no way betrayed him; in fact its performance that day exceeded anything anyone had a right to expect. It seems to me safe landings might have a different resonance for those whose landings were not the culmination of some kind of glorious, life-affirming and talent-demonstrating superman flight, but the survival of some unexpected medical crisis.

    Although in the end, let’s not kid ourselves, my nephew’s superman flight would have been all for naught but for the immediate intervention of a heroic nurse (or angel) who rushed in and fashioned a tourniquet for him while he was texting out the news on his cell phone. Again, it’s those unsung medical personnel that are the key to so many a safe landing.

  2. Monica says:

    What a great story of a true life miracle and safe landing. I especially liked the questions peppered throughout.

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