Reflections from 37,000 feet

37000 feet

“Ladies and Gentleman. We have now turned off the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ sign and you are free to move about the cabin. If you remain in your seats, please do keep your seat belt fastened. Our cruising altitude is 37,000 feet and we have a clear ride ahead. If all goes as scheduled, we should have you on the ground a few minutes early. Now please relax and enjoy the flight.” 

I stare out the window as the plane takes me farther and farther away from the earth. The metropolitan area beneath me has ceased being a snapshot of individual houses and is now like a toy designed for children with mini cars, streets, and buildings.

From 37,000 feet I am looking down at the world.

Tiny streets that first turned into highways have faded into larger bodies of land. Even the toy city has disappeared, in its place are large swaths of green and brown, some flat and others raised. Mountains look like papiermâché for a school project, lakes are varied sizes and shapes of blue-green in the landscape.

Things on the ground that felt large and cumbersome are now miniscule. The traffic that was at a standstill a few minutes ago has faded into the bigger picture, but before it faded I saw a clear road ahead. It’s no longer a bother, instead it’s benign — just part of the whole picture.

Soon cities fade into countries, countries fade into continents. The world is so big at 37,000 feet.

Is this the world through God’s eyes? Does he view those things that I see as major obstacles as mere passing problems, unable to interrupt the Grand Plan? Does he see the things that trip me, block me, cause me to stumble as minor disruptions?

Into this world he came – as a man. Blocked and challenged by the same things that challenge all of us. Hurt and moved by the things that hurt and move us. He was part of our world. We call it the “incarnation” and it is incredible. A mystery that God would confine himself to the small, the meek, the lowly, giving up his view from above to live in the view from below.

I settle back in the seat, row 15, seat A. 

Clouds billow like splotches of white paint on a blue canvas and a plane, that miracle of modern day travel, propels me forward.

Sometimes all I can do is stop and drink in the wonder of all of this.

I close my eyes and breathe deeply, drinking in this mystery. For if it were understandable, it would not be so great. 

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10 thoughts on “Reflections from 37,000 feet

    1. I love your post. Thank you for linking it. I left my comment on the blog but I’ve never thought about the order/chaos piece. And yes – airplanes are the best for reflection.


  1. So I’m looking on the web to try to guess which plane you are in and sitting in 15 A. Of course I imagine that you may not really be in 15 A. But at 37000 feet it is rather important as you will admit for even though the earth looks small and beautiful and peaceful your seat may not be…. (but like you, I rather prefer the distant view occasionally to remind me that IT is ALL more important than me and, fortunately, being managed WELL by SOMEONE who sees the WHOLE in all of its pieces without being overwhelmed like me) Thanks :)


    1. haha! And you’re so right, the seat can make all the difference. I’ll never forget my trip back to Cairo, pregnant, (Jonathan was born 2 weeks later) with two French children kicking my seat the entire way to Zurich. Not much reflection on that trip! But to the whole big picture piece, so important for me to realize how small I am vs how big I think I am….


  2. I want to be on that plane right now! I want to be far from what is current and now and here. I want to be up there, removed, objective, separate. We too are called to live incarnationally—present to what is real, knee deep in the messiness of it all, subjectively surrounded by the stuff of living. But… living at 37,000 feet would be idyllic!


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