Flight 370: Questions, emotions – and a lesson

Flight 370

Flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur. The questions abound. From Twitter to casual conversations, from news streams to classroom discussions, questions about a missing jet filled with innocent people roll out as fast as ticker tape in a hot market. How does a HUGE jet just vanish? Was it a conspiracy? What if it’s a terrorist plot—what’s the end game? What about the people on the plane—when did they know something was wrong—are they alive—and if they’re alive, are they ok? Why hasn’t Malaysia been transparent about the investigation? Even today, thirteen days after Flight 370 went off grid, with chatter about potential wreckage sited in the Indian Ocean, more questions emerge. If the flight went down, was it mechanical…why was the plane diverted? The many questions surrounding this mysterious event will continue to be asked even if we never have solid answers – and even if we do. We humans must ask questions….why, when, how, why, when, where, why….?

Flight 370. The emotions are all over the place. Fear fills the hearts of families and friends who are clamoring for information. Anger explodes in the face of a perceived “run around.” Desperation hovers in the home where mother and child cling to the hope that the person who cares for them and offers them their only security is perhaps just missing. Frustration oozes out of the experts. Sympathy flows from those who know from their own experience how horrible it is to wait and wonder for hours, days, weeks. Apathy enters in on the part of those who are busy and distracted with their own struggles of life—sometimes followed by a sense of guilt for not reacting like “everyone else.” Ambiguity sums it up for others. And perhaps we might even name a gnawing sense of morbid curiosity driving those who cannot get enough tweets, news updates, and conversations about the mysterious missing flight. Each and every one of these reactions—or lack thereof—is legitimate in this situation and in all situations of life. Ours is the task of accepting our place on an emotional roller coaster and allowing others to enter into their emotional space on a crazy, mysterious ride that makes no sense at all.

Flight 370. The lessons are significant. Boeing is learning how to make cockpits even safer. Nations are learning—we hope—the importance of collaboration and communication. Satellite companies and governments are convinced that much more than a ping is necessary and possible in this global world of uncertainties and dangers. Families and communities are discovering ways of supporting one another. And we…those of us so far removed…we have things to learn also. The mysterious and confusing circumstances surrounding what should have been a routine part of life hold a lesson that comes to us from family and friends of the 239 who are watching, waiting, wondering. The last conversations, the last text messages, the last moments with their beloveds are being remembered and revisited over and over again. And herein lies our lesson: every interaction, every conversation, every action, every selfie, every moment leaves a footprint in the hearts and minds of others. Flight 370 has taught us that—again. In the midst of this mystery each of us has another routine moment to offer kindness, honesty, helpfulness, integrity, caring, loving, goodness. Each of us has the gift of this moment to honor the 239 missing souls and their loved ones by living and being the kind and loving people I believe we are all created to be. With questions swirling through our minds and emotions beating in our hearts, we have this moment—perhaps our only moment—to leave a footprint of kindness and love. In the midst of that which makes no sense at all–in the midst of the mystery behind Flight 370- may we learn the importance of every moment.

-Rev. Diane Dardon

4 thoughts on “Flight 370: Questions, emotions – and a lesson

  1. I couldn’t help but reflect once again on an event 15 years ago. When the Texas A&M Bonfire collapsed, as a Christian, I found myself asking some of these same questions, including “Why God?” And why was one child taken and the other left, when they were standing on the bonfire stack, side by side. How did You, my God, decide which one?” My father was also dying of cancer at the time, and I thought he could give me the answer. Perhaps he did, but after answering this lifelong question in an email, he inadvertently deleted it instead of sending the “send” button. He didn’t have the strength to write it down again, and he passed away shortly thereafter. The question remained unanswered for a few days, until Sunday arrived. I couldn’t get into the service of the church I regularly attended (everyone in town had come out of the woodwork to seek spiritual counseling and answers, I suppose), and so I headed down the street to a Bible Church. The pastor ended the sermon, with the following, which not only answered my question for the bonfire collapse that killed 12 students and seriously injured another 27, but for 911 and now for 370, as well as many other events that have transpired over the year..

    The pastor had recently visited Russia. During the trip, he thought it would be interesting to enter a gorgeous theatre and watch a Russian movie (scripted, of course). When the opulent red velvet drapes with their heavy gold bullion fringe drew back, the screen was only about four feet wide. The movie started; it was in black and white. He commented that he wondered why we had been so worried about sputnik and the space race if this was a far as technology had come; it was pretty pathetic. The opening scene depicted a man and a woman on either side of a child. The woman struck the child; his head reeled from the force. Soon after, the man on the other side struck the child, and his head reeled in the opposite direction. The striking escalated, not only in force, but in frequency. At this point, the pastor decided that he didn’t want to watch this movie of child abuse, and got up from his seat. As he began walking toward the aisle, those opulent drapes drew back further, revealing the whole picture. The film was not as it appeared. It was not in black and white; it was a Russian winter scene in which the temperatures were extremely frigid. It was not a man and woman physically abusing a child. Rather, it was a Mother and Father trying to keep their child from falling asleep, so that he would move around to keep from freezing to death.

    Then the pastor quoted from I Corinthians 13, verse 12. …Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. God’s plan is perfect, but it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. We only get to see pieces, and as such, it’s not really clear what’s going on. Once in a while, we are able (through scripture or the passing of time) to see a bigger picture…to make sense of it all…to see and understand how it all worked together according to His plan. For me, that fateful bonfire night, I realized what “faith” was really all about…that even though I don’t understand what’s going on (the why), I can simply trust that God will do his good work according to His will in Christ Jesus. What a wonderful savior we have.

    And I was blessed to get just a glimpse of what He had in mind that night; hundreds of students were converted to Christ. Of the almost 50,000 students in total, those that died already knew Him as their Savior; they were ready to meet their Creator. Those were the ones taken.

    • I pray and pray that there is a plan and that somehow the people are safe and on an island. My heart is so heavy thinking about the anguish of the family members, waiting. Let God surround them and keep them healthy and place in them extra strength to maintain the stamina that this has dumped on them, let their hearts be warmed with the memories and lets all send positive thoughts their way.
      May the forgiveness of sins during lent be sent to those who need our prayers the most.
      Sandra Tanksley
      Perth Resident, DePaul Staff member

    • As they literally count the days before the plane’s communication devices stop working (about a month), I have been reminded of this post. The thing that stands out to me from what you say here is this: “The last conversations, the last text messages, the last moments with their beloveds are being remembered and revisited over and over again. And herein lies our lesson: every interaction, every conversation, every action, every selfie, every moment leaves a footprint in the hearts and minds of others.” I keep coming back to this notion of what if I conducted all of my communications as if they might be the last? How can I be more careful and thoughtful?

  2. Diane – thanks for responding to something that is so on the hearts and minds of people all over the world and bringing a lesson home. Appreciate it.

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