Thanksgiving Free Fall
Last November, early on Thanksgiving morning, while many people were stuffing turkeys and sliding them into the oven, I was sliding my slightly nervous self into the harness of a parachute that had been carefully stuffed for the next novice skydiver.
I didn’t know whether I should feel brave or totally insane. Ultimately, curiosity won out as I watched as two young men methodically prepare my sister and me for our first jump.
They led us to a small, somewhat rattletrap airplane. Again, not knowing exactly what to fear, I climbed in and watched intently out the window as the plane gained altitude.
My sister was going first. When we arrived at the spot designated to leave that metal womb and step out into unknown territory, I did feel one short, gripping pang of fear. It was when I saw the plane tip to the right and my sister was gone, out the door, without even a moment to think or to choose whether to stay or go. Seconds later, another tip, and I, too, was free falling.
The wind charged at me. I was being cradled and tossed about, calmed and exhilarated, all at the same time. Held in space, air pressing against me, earth’s browns and tans coming closer, I felt small, insignificant. My power had been stripped away. I was a marionette, completely in the hands of Him who had created the immensity of space through which I flew. Unbidden came the thought, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? I couldn’t fully describe it, but, in that instant, I felt completely vulnerable—smaller than a dot in the scheme of things—and, yet, I knew that I was seen, and loved and cared about by a power much greater than I.
The next morning, in one of those strange twists of life, another of my sisters called to let us know her husband had passed away early that morning. There she was, with a quick tip to the right, and just like that, without a moment to think about it, or to choose, she in a free fall of her own.
I could only imagine the force of the wind that beat about her at that moment, the gale that burned her eyes and left her legs weak. She, too, must have felt small, insignificant, her power stripped away, her control taken over momentarily. She was a marionette, completely in the all-knowing hands of Him who had created the immensity of space, the beauty of the earth, the expanse of eternity she was glimpsing. I wanted to reach to her, to catch her, to fall with her…or for her. And, then, it came again. What is man, that thou are mindful of him? I wasn’t sure what it all meant, except that, in that instant, I knew that she, too, was seen and loved and cared about by a power greater than us all.