Friday, 22 October 2010

Up and Downs

I was sat in a plane last week and watched rapt at the information that was placed before us: flight time, altitude, temperature, and so on - I confess that a world formed by numbers in flux appeals to me. However, I was reminded of a flight I once took in America - a short hop. The plane took off, reached a given height and then immediately began to lose height until it found the runway.

To me that seemed pointless. Gaining height, maintaining a cruising altitude and then gliding back down when on the landing approach - now that makes sense to me. Imagine a flight path like Table Mountain in South Africa, as opposed to one of those pointy mountains that our kids draw for us with zigzag snow just below the summit! Why climb to a height only to come down from it immediately?!

I don't doubt that there are clear reasons for doing that - fuel economy maybe, but I wondered if this is not a pattern of flight that we adopt in our own lifetimes: we are born and we gain altitude through education, qualification and/or promotion until we run out of time and dive down to the 'landing'. I have seen lives lived like that - without any plateaus, without any cruising height.

It seems to me that a life without cruising height is a life constructed only of hopes followed endings - but without the enjoyment of the fruits of those hopes and dreams somewhere in the middle. Maybe that is what is wrong with modern living - we are all so focussed on status and excelling that in the event we reach that lofty heights that we seek, we have not a moment to enjoy the ride or its views before our mortality causes us to make our landing approach.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


I have just journeyed to Jerusalem, and for a period of a couple of weeks. Such a journey required of me two conscious thoughts: how long and why. These questions attracted their answers and those answers then informed what I took with me on that journey - both in terms of specifics and in terms of volume.

To me, prayer is a journey before and with God. It seemed clear to me, as I toiled across an airport concourse with a large suitcase that I had just that which I needed - perhaps an obvious statement, but one that nonetheless should not be ignored. Had I travelled for a weekend, I would have taken a small pack. Had I travelled for a gliding holiday, I would have carried with me things quite distinct from the clothing and materials that I had packed for this journey.

I have pondered this over the last little while in regards to my own prayer life. Whilst I can only ever speak for myself, I now recognise that in prayer I take with me into that encounter with God what I think I need, and mindful of the time-frame in question. This is to say, I am try to be purposeful in prayer - be that the purpose of pondering, of supplication etc. What I am now conscious of is not to turn up for a 'weekend' prayer packed for a month, and not for a study tour with my gliding paraphernalia.