There’s a story about a navy jet pilot in Vietnam whose plane was destroyed by surface-to air missile. He ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. Gratefully, he survived the ordeal, and now spends his time lecturing on the lessons he learned from that experience.
One day while sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said excitedly’ You’re the pilot who flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and you were shot down! How in the world did you know that? Asked the amazed pilot. The man replied; “I packed your parachute. The airman shook his hand in gratitude and said; “Well, I guess it worked!” And they parted. End of coincidence. Nice story? Not quite.
The pilot began to think of the many hours that ordinary sailor spent in the bowels of the ship folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands the fate of someone he didn’t know. Having thought about that meeting, this veteran now asks his audience when he lectures: Who's packing your parachute? His point is that everyone has someone who has packed their parachutes, who has blessed them, who has provided what they need to make it though the day.
Ask yourself, who blessed you this week. Our parish has been blessed with the craftsman skill of an inmate who has opened up the sanctuary and revealed two beautiful stain glass windows that have been covered for decades. On my recent trauma response, I was the guest of a special couple who took care of me with their warm hospitality and sent me home with homemade breads and a spring pussy willow wreath.
So as we continue our Lenten journey. Whose parachute have you packed? Or should have packed? Who did you bless this week? Family and friends. Sometimes, in the daily challenges of life that life gives us, we miss what really is important.
We are called to bless. It was also predicted of us: "In you all families of the earth shall be blessed." Lent is the time to recall how we are blessed and how we bless others. If there is a failure to bless, Lent is the time to repent, to confess and to promise to do better. Most of all Lent is simply time to recall your awesome vocation. We are here on earth to be a blessing to others.
God invites us to listen to his words and what do you hear? “When I was hungry you gave me to eat, when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink, when I was sick, you visited me.” (Matt 25:35).
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who are a blessing to others. Start packing parachutes and start blessing those who packed yours. By the way, have you adopted a rescued hen? Contact your local animal shelter and have them contact the ASPCA to provide a safe haven for one of God’s beautiful creatures.