07 July 2008

...holding pattern....

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Atlanta airport has closed entrance to the airport due to severe thunderstorms, so we are in a holding pattern to see if the weather will clear. We have plenty of fuel for this, so just sit back and relax. We will keep you informed of the situation."

I spent the Independence Day holiday in our nation's capitol, Washington DC, visiting relatives and friends. We had a great time: good food, good fellowship, interesting sites to visit. Took some pictures along the way (but, of course)...and now I was flying home. It was a trip fraught with adventure. For this trip, I took advantage of my brother's employment with Delta and was flying home on a buddy pass. I'd already been scared at the airport that I might not get on the flight I wanted due to a large military contingent flying home, and duh! holiday weekend travel...but God blessed and my name was the last name called on the "cleared" standby list. [thank God for praying friends across the country!] As the gate attendant asked me if I minded sitting in the exit row, I thanked God for His mercy in allowing me to board...period.

Two hours later, we should have been landing in Atlanta, when the pilot made the announcement above..."Ladies and gentlemen...we are in a holding pattern." It made me think: how many times do we have things planned, only to have them interrupted by things beyond our control? How many times have our lives been placed in a "holding pattern" where literally, all you can do is ride out the storm and wait? I know there have been several instances in my life when this has happened. And how you survive it depends on your faith and your attitude towards the situation. Do you rail against the delay? Or do you accept that maybe it is for the better good that you don't move forward at the present time? Can I be honest and tell you, I don't always do the former and am only learning to do the latter?

My flight ended up being re-routed to Knoxville TN. As we sat on the runway for 2.5 hours, waiting to be refueled and to be given clearance back to the Atlanta airport, I had a text mail conversation with my godsister in which we both agreed - the delay was frustrating, but better to be safe in Knoxville [where the sun was shining and the winds were calm] than flying through thunder, lightning and high winds. A fellow passenger and I were talking about the delay and how cool, calm, and collected I was being about it. He commented, "Wow, you have a such a positive attitude about this." Well, what was I going to do? Go to the cockpit and demand that the pilot start the plane and get us out of there? Uh, no. It was out of my hands and control...and the best [and only] thing to do was to wait patiently until the designated time.

A trip that I thought would only take 2 hours to complete ended up taking about 6 hours, but I got home safely and for that I am grateful. When I landed, the sky was clear, the sun was shining, and if it hadn't been for the water puddled along the curbs, you would have never know that it had even rained in Atlanta. I may never know why God put that particular "holding pattern" in my life...but I am sure He had His reasons. I praise Him for safe travel to and from Washington DC.

By the way, my brother called me later in the evening to tell me that all inbound flights were eventually canceled into the airport. The delays, I believe, were too intense to overcome, so they shut everything down. God is good, let me tell you! Knoxville is close enough that I could have driven home, if necessary, but I am glad that I didn't have to make that choice.

Be blessed.

[PS: the attached picture was taken at 10,000 feet through the window of the plane, somewhere between Knoxville and Atlanta...how beautiful! What a wonderful Creator we serve.]

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