I only ever got to take one official flight lesson. It was a Cessna 152, a cramped two seater prop-job for normal-sized people, not to mention a person of my…well…largeness.
Despite having spent countless hours on Microsoft Flight Simulator and studying aviation maneuvers in books, real-life flight proved to be significantly more involved. Add to it the reality that if I were to crash in the simulator, I could start over; crash in real life, the consequences would be a bit more severe.
Take off and climb was amazing. Banking and turning went very well. The hardest thing for me was actually something you’d think was the simplest…flying straight and level. All kinds of forces are acting on the plane (and your inner ear) and keeping it perfectly balanced on all its axes requires a fair amount of skill, but as I’d yank and twist the control yoke, the instructor would bark at me one simple command:
“KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE HORIZON!”
The horizon, that mystical place where the ground meets the sky…the line that separates “the dome above” from “the dome below” that is at one and the same time seemingly out of reach, yet also right in front of us.
Trying to fly the plane based on what’s happening in my inner ear or on every little bump of turbulence caused chaos. But locking my eyes on the horizon, a fixed, unmistakable, visible-in-every-direction landmark, proved to be a surefire means to peaceful, level flight.
Our spiritual Horizon is just as real and just as necessary as the physical one. Christ Jesus Himself is our spiritual Horizon. He is that fixed, unmistakeable, visible-in-every-direction landmark that is at one and the same time seemingly always out of reach, but yet right there with us. He is the bridge between Heaven and Earth. With “eyes fixed on Jesus” like the author of the Letter to the Hebrews instructs, we will persevere…we will find again the path, we will hear the truth, we will see beauty, we will encounter goodness (see Hebrews 12:1 and following).
I find myself coming back to this simple aviation lesson frequently, and I invite you to as well. Are you getting knocked off course by life’s “turbulence”? Are the things that should be simple and straightforward proving to be more challenging and taxing than anticipated? Does balance seem to constantly elude? Trying to live without our spiritual Horizon inevitably leads to overreaction, irritability, instability, chaos. But locking our eyes on the Horizon brings peace.
Look for Jesus, the Horizon…look for Him in the scriptures, the Mass, in the Eucharist, already in your heart. There are good things on the Horizon for you, for me, for the parish. Let’s KEEP OUR EYES ON THE HORIZON!
Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
All your holy saints of God, pray for us!
– Father Michael