After a trial can come a blessing?

Four-engine gas prop Hastings
Jul 29, 2016

After a trial can come a blessing?

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Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world

Question #33
Rite of Passage Twelve –Flying Solo–
1958 -I am now twenty-four years old

Q: Travel: In a world filled with huge cultural differences it’s possible to make some fairly serious mistakes. Did you run a special risk in your past travels?

This is going to sound very old fashioned but lets get it out of the way, quickly!

The very first experience I had in an aircraft was with a crazy Australian who loved flying a very small Tiger Moth training bi-plane and doing stunts. He invited me to join him.

I did just that one flight when I was sixteen. My mother decided wisely that her son didn’t need to fly upside down (remember; he was from ‘down under’) and suggested we play golf instead.

So…for another first, I stepped onto a golf course where my new friend let go of a number 2-iron -which wound up in my face. Thirty-six stitches later I made it back home with a substantial fat lip and one less front tooth!

My next flight was to be a marathon. At 25 years of age I boarded an air force ‘relic’ -a four-engine gas prop Hastings and set out for New Zealand, a trip that would take ten days at no higher than 12,000 feet.

Four-engine gas prop Hastings

Four-engine gas prop Hastings

There now –I told you that I began my new life in the air with two extraordinary ‘firsts’!

I really do want to encourage you to find Flash of Silver, perhaps in a library, and read Rite of Passage (chapter) Twelve. It’s really quite a hoot what happened when we had a layover in San Francisco!

You may recall that the air force had decided that I needed to go ahead of Treena and Tessa in order that I could become ‘acclimated to the culture’ more than the climate.

We were not a bit happy about the idea but the opportunity to make one HUGE leap away from our sad past –was it worth it?

So…what about now?

I’m writing this blog at the Atlanta airport gate number 23 (for the second time today!) I flew in from Seattle on a 4 hour 20 minute flight that arrived early enough to have to wait 20 minutes…for a parking spot!

This allowed me a fine brisk walk from T concourse to B concourse with a brief high-speed train as a link.

I arrived just in time to grab my seat on a 50-minute (105 mile) flight to Chattanooga Tennessee (yes, the choo choo one!)

At takeoff we were told that a small switch had failed and a brief wait would fix it.

That took just on 45 minutes…to no avail. We quit the unhappy plane and moved to the end of B concourse to await a replacement. Then…Ho Ho! they decide to do a hotbed change with an incoming and so back we go to our original gate and…wait. Allowing me time to buy water “Keep hydrated”, says daughter Tessa on the phone from Seattle.

At 12:45am we re-board and poof! in a magical moment my prized Patagonia (natural down filled) electric blue comfort coat –disappears –swallowed up and nowhere to be found –GONE!

I take a “just in case” single Advil and sit there remembering my early flying days –really, not so much has changed!

A PLEASANT POSTSCRIPT (P.P.S) 

I wanted to leave the HAPPY ENDING until now–for its possible effect?!

Last week I wrote about B.I.S.I –going “Beyond Immediate Self Interest”.

What happened as I left that very late aircraft in Chattanooga was that I saw a female ground crew member standing alongside our exit on the tarmac with my bright blue jacket over her arm. A fellow (B.I.S.I) passenger had found it and handed it over to be seen by its owner.

It would have been so easy for her to fold it into its tiny ball and leave the plane…only to find later, in the pocket, an envelope with Treena’s ashes inside!

So “thank you, B.I.S.I”–you are a great example to our nation at this time and I’m so grateful.

P.S This week I read Treena’s poem How Long

6 Comments

  1. Ira Says: July 30, 2016 7:45 am

    What a powerful experience! I have experienced my fair share of quite painful experiences, and looking back on each of them, I too see God’s hand leading me and growing me through those experiences. Making me who I am today!

  2. Jean Says: July 30, 2016 1:13 pm

    The Bible tells us we’re not of this world but we are in it – and how time schedules run the current of our lives. “He makes all things beautiful in His time” . Isn’t it amazing how God lines us up to be in the right place at the right time with the right people to bless us and fulfill a purpose. You were blessed to see “the goodness of God in the land of the living”. Speaking of culture, the worst faux pas I can remember is the first time I had lunch in a local Jewish deli/restaurant. Not knowing Orthodox food customs I proceeded to order the wrong combination of meat and dairy. The waitress sharply told me I could not do that and, much to my shame now, exclaimed I was Catholic and could eat whatever I wanted. She still refused and I allowed her to “educate” me on what was proper. I had a lovely tuna sandwich with coffee. I have never forgot that lesson and my love and respect for Jewish people has never wained.

  3. Jean Says: July 30, 2016 1:20 pm

    P.S. Welcome to the East Coast again. May your trip be truly blessed coming and going. Thank you so much for keeping up your blog with us.

  4. Jean Says: July 30, 2016 1:36 pm

    Near misses – thank God the envelope of Treena’s ashes were not lost. Recently I made the foolish mistake of removing my grandmother’s wedding band while shopping and placing in my pants pocket. Of course I didn’t discover until the next day that it was gone! This fine Italian gold ring is over 100 years old. I’ve learned that whether something is lost or stolen it must be for the benefit of the one who now posses it – at least I hope so. I would so welcome a surprise reunion with this family heirloom – if you would care to pray for such. Thank you.

  5. Lynn Severance Says: July 31, 2016 10:09 pm

    Graham, “flashes of silver” entered your life long before the resilience of those salmon gave you focus for your current book! Those planes (oh, goodness – upside down!), golf club flying and most certainly silver drilling and correcting the aftermath dental need!!. What memories you recall, and share with much zest. I loved revisiting the first experience you had on USA soil in San Francisco!! That was a hoot.

    As to your recent flight to Chattanooga – so grateful for that happy ending and the return of your coat and its priceless treasure within. Surely God placed the right ‘angel’ in your life after that stop-go-wait-run journey.

    I am reminded as I go through this blog post of how your experiences mirror the words of the wise sage of our time: Dr. Seuss!! : Here are a few excerpts from, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” Enjoy!! 🙂

    “Congratulations!
    “Today is your day.
    You’re off to Great Places!
    You’re off and away!

    You have brains in your head.
    You have feet in your shoes.
    You can steer yourself
    any direction you choose.
    You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
    And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go. . .

    With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
    You’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.”

  6. Kerryn Says: August 1, 2016 9:21 am

    Graham, I confess to chuckling at the antics of the “crazy Australian!” We seem to have a name for ourselves of being a bit “crazy!” I’m not a thrill seeker & avoid rollercoaster rides, so I’m not a “crazy Australian” in that sense! Yet God seems to take our family on crazy rollercoaster rides during life! We’ve done some seemingly “crazy” things in our lives, especially in the ways of travel, yet we sense God guiding us to them & through them! One such time was in 2003 when we spent 6 months travelling overseas with no real idea of where we were to go or why we were going, except that God said “Go!” So “go” we did with our sons home-schooled by us during those 6 months & in their high school years, as we stayed with many families in other countries, including the USA & England. God never disappointed us in the adventures He took us on & our sons regularly reminisce about the ways that God led us in quite miraculous ways. Were there risks in those travels? Lots! Did we make some “serious mistakes”?…. hmmm…. we made lots of cultural oopsies, through ignorance, but the lessons learned through them were important. Through it all God guided, helped, supported & protected us. There were many B.I.S.I. people we met & had the joy to befriend. What a blessing for you to have that coat returned with Treena’s ashes in the pocket! May God bless that B.I.S.I. fellow passenger.

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