As a teenager, my relationship with my father was always contentious. My questions about things that seemed important were often dismissed in ways that left me without soul satisfying answers. Although he was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known, I had developed no real appreciation for that until I was born-again into a larger, truly universal family.
My rebirth occurred right around Christmas of 1972. It was a long labor. Before that, my highest conception of any Supreme Deity, if one existed at all, was that it was the sum total of our collective human experience. As I began to consider the possibility of a Supreme Being, one that might even have personality, my focus shifted from the ancient Hindu concept of the It Is to the things Jesus revealed about the I AM.
In those days my personal bible was the record library of the FM radio station where I hosted an all night show for a year or so. It was a twenty-three hundred watt flower pot, inside the Washington Beltway, that featured album rock. Because of the free form way, in which the station operated, I could simply spin what interested me. It was a time of spiritual growth as my interests and my selections were gradually moving away from themes of darkness and death to those of light and life.
Jim Morrison’s shouts of “Cancel my subscription to the resurrection” no longer appealed to me. While I continued to love the music of the Doors, I was developing a real affinity for the Moody Blues. The song Have You Heard reached me. I was especially touched by the lyrics: Life’s ours for the making, Eternity’s waiting, Waiting for you and me.
My first flight instructor was George. He was into Scientology in a big way and, although I had read some of the Hubbard stuff, I found a statement contained within one of his books rather off-putting. He wrote: “Don’t mix this with modern psycho-analytic theory.” I remember thinking “How self-serving.”
George however, was an impressive individual. One television commercial that aired in Washington featured George flying a little red biplane wearing a leather aviator’s cap and a white silk scarf that was trailing him. He spun the plane into a dive and, in the voiceover, George said “My life was in a spin; but then I found the modern science of Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard.” At that point George had put the plane back into straight and level flight. It was a great commercial. Although I had already read Dianetics and found some of it useful, the commercial didn’t persuade me to buy into Hubbard’s package deal. But it really was a great commercial!
Years before, during my first flying lesson, and with his elbow propped up on the wing of a Cessna 152, George had said: “Don’t try to memorize what I say to you. Just make sure you understand it. At that point memory will be automatic.” I thought “What a great teaching technique,” and I immediately recognized the culture from which George drew his inspiration.
At some point, during one of the many flights that followed, George said something else that stuck with me. He said “after you get your pilot’s license, be sure to get a seaplane rating.” When I asked why, George said “Because it’s the easiest to get and it’s definitely the most fun.” In the days, months, and years that followed that conversation, I was drawn to every picture in every magazine that featured a seaplane. Some would have a person sitting on the wing while fishing. Others would have kids swimming around the plane. I thought: “I get it now: Island hopping for one vacation and lake hopping for the next.”
Then, I had the dream. It was an impressive dream. It was kind of like a short clip that seemed to be spliced onto the end of every dream I had for a period of years. I had landed a seaplane on some lake that was too small to support a takeoff run. And it always ended with me going around in circles hoping for that rare gust of wind that would finally get me airborne. Now if that ain’t a metaphor for something, I don’t know what is.
Here’s what I do know. There are times when we look at a problem as if we’re wearing blinders. We may think the only thing that’s going to get us out of a bad situation is a gust of wind or a winning lottery ticket. Waiting and hoping for luck to come our way may give rise to a teachable moment. Then, we must be responsive to Divine leading.
The Phil Keaggy song Disappointment described God’s appointment this way: “Well, He knows each broken purpose leads to fuller deeper trust. And the end of all His dealings proves our God is wise and just.” It is that wisdom, that flows from the heart of our loving Heavenly Father, that is our best evidence of the Supreme Being.