Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter Sunday Flight to Stockholm

After a busy Holy Week, it was time to get on the flight to Stockholm where I could direct a retreat on deepening one's spirituality through creativity. Having said the 10:00 a.m. Spanish Resurrection mass, I made one last trip to visit my sister, the family home, for a quick Easter meal. I am keeping true to Just-In-Time management techniques because as soon as I finished packing, my ride was downstairs to meet me. My bags were heavy, but the retreat will be light.

The plane to Paris was full save for one seat that separated me from a young Parisian woman who was terrified of flying. She is a Ph.D. student in linguistics and is ready to defend her dissertation. She asked that I continuously talk to her so she would be distracted. As the plane advanced towards the runway, it was time to fully engage.

I told her that the first thing we would need to do is to breathe deeply. She gasped a shallow gulp of air and then I instructed her on a more helpful way to breathe. I talked her through it, but the poor dear was absolutely terrified. A woman once broke through the skin on my hand when she clinched what she thought was the armrest, but was actually the top of my hand. This woman was even more frightened.

I thought we would be good after taking three deep breaths and then exhaling them slowly, but we have to keep going. Finally after twelve slow and deliberate breaths, we were airborne and she thanked me for walking her through it. The people in the seats in front of us also thanked me because they said they breathed along with us.

This woman said she needed to be in control of most things. I guess I'm more cavalier about flying. If the plane crashes, I die, and the life of others on the ground continues on.

I helped her through the landing as well, but she was less anxious because she knew the goal was to be on terra firma. I felt like I completed my Easter duty of mercy. So, then it was time to watch "Moonlight," a challenging film to watch, and "A Hologram for the King," a feel-good movie starring Tom Hanks.

The next leg was Paris to Stockholm was less enjoyable. Two young boys with colds were coughing and sneezing to my left. Behind me, a mother and her two very young children were continuously coughing and jostling for a better seat position. Across the row from me were the two brothers of the boys next to me and their dad, with all the kids sneezing. It will be a miracle if I don't catch their colds.

An interesting fact that I learned about Stockholm is that it is the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska. When I deboarded, light snow welcomed me to this Nordic nation.


  1. Sounds like fun, John! Well, most of it![smile]

    1. I'm enjoying this experience with an open-heart. I like the charm and nobility of the city.