While my dad was getting treatments in Boston, driving up there became too expensive. So we found a charitable way to get up to Boston called Angel Flights. A small plane pilot would offer their plane and time to fly those who were sick who needed assistance in travel.
The first flight we took was in a puddle-jumper: a prop plane owned by American Airlines or Delta (one of the American airplane companies). It was similar to what I could imagine of flying in a small World War II bomber. About thirty minutes into the flight from Allentown, PA to Boston, there was a loud banging on the fuselage. There were some passengers who were rather alarmed. My dad asked me if I heard it. I said yes, but wasn’t worried. I was dead to the world around me at this point in my life. Someone told the pilot there was a loud banging on the fuselage. So we made an emergency landing in Wilkes Barr, PA.
What we found out was that the de-icing mechanism was falling away from the wing and banging on the fuselage. If we had flown the entire flight, there was a potential the wing would have fallen off.
Now imagine the difference in thought here, between me and my dad. Here was a man who was sick and slowly dying and was fighting to live. On the other hand, I was welcoming an end. Looking back, I was stuck in a deep depression but also a deep melancholy with acedia. Yet at the same time, I sought grace. It was grace that kept me alive. I didn’t have any thoughts of suicide in this time. But I welcomed almost anything that “the fates” or destiny or God’s will had in store—life or death. I was a perfect stoic, which I learned in some ways from my dad.
At this time, I am in a depression of sorts, so these melancholy memories pop their heads above the boiling pitch. It’s amazing how crippling depression is. And how God works through it. It truly shows how much we truly are not in control of ourselves. Thank God our lives aren’t dictated by our feelings. I wish happiness was easy for me. But thank God He shows the dark reality of the world, but also how much brighter it truly is with God’s presence.
We trap ourselves within ourselves. God has to pull us out, saving us from ourselves, from the messed up world, and from the devil who is the evil presence. This is not to say that the world is evil by any means. God created this world and called it good. It is good, yet fallen. That is why God must redeem it from its fallenness.
My personality wishes to escape like the Platonist, like the Gnostic. But it is God’s command that I live. That I rely on Him, rely on grace, which in some sense is something, but also truly a person (Jesus Christ). That I participate within the world. The incarnation of Jesus Christ himself makes this material existence an important aspect of living. We are not luminous beings disembodied, not even in the afterlife. Yes, we are luminous, but because of Jesus Christ. We are transfigured in our inner being and our material being, making us whole. Jesus Christ is the perfect embodied man who is also the Son of God—fully human, fully divine.
So that mechanism banging against the fuselage of that prop plane awakened the life within the dying. Something was wrong. It was a loud reminder to those who wanted to live. But to those who were indifferent (me), it was a welcoming bell, a trumpet. Yet it is not me who is in charge of life and death. God was telling me to live. Wake up. You may die here today, careening into the Pennsylvania landscape. But you don’t care. I will stir someone else, so that you too may live. Your time is not through yet. Who are you to welcome the enemy? You have mountains to climb. Many will you climb.
These mountains are not mountain top experiences. They are difficult climbs. There is much I must leave behind to reach the peak. But once I reach that peak, there is another mountain to climb. This life is definitely Purgatory. Purgatory is not meant to be a despairing journey, but at times, my short sightedness sees my journey that way. Purgatory is to be a joy. Because we are ascending toward God the greatest good, the best being, person in the cosmos.