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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Somersaults around Fear

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence.

Hov'ring thereI've chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long delirious, burning blue, I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or even eagle flew -And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod

The high untresspassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee

No 412 squadron, RCAF

Killed 11 December 1941

I was going to title this post "Death of a Dream" but found that burst of creative angst a bit too melancholy. This poem hung in my bedroom from about age 8 until the time I left for college at age 17. I still have it. Brown around the edges. It represented a time where the dream of pursuing an aviation career loomed very large on my horizon. In fact, I wanted to to be an astronaut. (ok, enough of the space cadet jokes already :-P). My folks took me down to Dayton, OH to the air and space museum where I found this poem and many other things to delight my fancy. I fell in love with the idea of space travel and adventures in galaxies far away from this one. I don't know why I never pursued it; a few bouts of claustrophobia, ideas of joining peace corps, boyfriends, difficulty in math/science. Who knows. I stopped short. I was in fear. This happened a few more times in my life and began to convince me that fear was sort of a thing to be avoided. (same with guilt, shame, anger and other sundry emotions probably more well-intentioned to get us off of our butts and help us grow.)
If we explored the realm of fear as we possibly could explore the realm of space, we might discover a few things about ourselves that might surprise us. Fear is many things, to be sure. To name a few:
Fear is not necessarily an absence of faith. It might be it's very beginnings.
Fear is an emotion to be dealt with, not relegated to a safe corner for unsafe keeping
Fear is meant to inspire us to courage
Fear is an an emotion, nothing more, nothing less; it too, shall pass.
And finally this:
My freedom from unhealthy fear hinges on my belief in an all knowing, all loving Creator who is all power, justice and love; a God who intends for me a purpose, a meaning, and a destiny to grow, however little and haltingly, toward His own likeness and image. ((As Bill Sees It, 51)
I would hope that just as our fallen hero above discovered his ultimate freedom on the day of his eternity: that I too might be able to draw victory from the death of a bugaboo named fear:
Killed, at some near date in the very near future.
Til then, I'll get out my grappling hooks and hang on for the rest of the excursion.

1 comment:

  1. The same poem has hung in our home for husband was a pilot since his early teens. High Flight...he reached up and touched the face of God many times and still feels the same way about flying. He still follows planes he sees in the sky and gives their names and model numbers.