I stopped looking out of airplane windows some time ago. I suppose I don’t remember exactly when, but I did. When I was a kid, or even in my early adulthood, whenever I was on a plane, I would ask for the window seat. The window seat was the place where you could feel more protected, enclosed by the passenger in the middle and the side of the plane, it also allowed you a solid surface to rest your head when you wanted to sleep [nothing is as frustrating as trying to sleep and not having a place to rest your head (Luke 9:58)]. And of course, the window seat, had the window. And the window was the view to the outside: the view over mountain ranges and cities, over parks, and forests and buildings and baseball diamonds. It was the place where you could experience that extraordinary geometry which only grows more perfect the higher your vantage point climbs – an image of the Church itself: up close, as individual Christians, we are imperfect and flawed, but from higher altitudes we gradually become perfect; that spotless bride of Christ which St. Paul taught (2 Corinthians 11:2). And I would let my imagination run: I would picture walking the towns, being parachuted into the deserts, or falling into the lakes – imagined myself looking around, in the middle of nowhere, in the deep silences of beautiful expanses of unpopulation. I would also feel very close to God in those moments though at some of those times I may not have referred to them as such. Those moments looking out the window were moments of peace. And suspension of the daily, of forgetting the ordinary and diving into the spaces of the unknown.
Today, probably because I fly so often, and the novelty of those windows seats has worn away, and with it, perhaps, my imagination, it matters less where I sit. Have I lost my childhood fancy? Or is this the result of a deeper faith, a more constant connection with the Divine in the ordinary?
“God ordinarily reveals Himself in ordinary ways.” This I have come to understand as true. His miraculous nature is all around us – where there is life, there is miracle. Whether in nature or in the restless babbling of an infant, or in the smile from a stranger. There is God. He is earth shattering in his resplendence (Matthew 17:2), and he is infinitely small and quiet (1 Kings 19:11-12).
Thank you Lord for window seats, and thank you Lord for the aisle too.