There is a story of an American Navy pilot, who, during the Vietnam War, flew combat missions and was anticipating home leave when his plane was destroyed by a missile.
He and his co-pilot ejected, landed in a rice paddy, were captured and confined to prisoner-of-war camps.
After release and repatriation, he settled back into family life and became a motivational speaker.
One day when he was having a meal, a man, sitting at another table, said: "You flew fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk! You were shot down!"
Taken aback, he replied: "How did you know that?"
The man answered: "I packed your parachute." And quickly followed up with: "Well, I guess it worked!"
"It sure did, if your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today." The stranger departed.
The pilot pondered on this meeting: "I kept wondering what that man might have looked like in a Navy uniform" ... how many times he might have seen him and not even said "good morning, how are you?" because he was a fighter pilot, the other just a sailor.
He reflected on how many hours that ordinary sailor had spent carefully folding the silks and packing the chutes for every pilot, holding in his hands the fate of people he didn't know.
Such faith led him to be conscious of the many different kinds of parachutes people need in life; for a physical parachute, for a mental parachute, for a spiritual parachute, for an emotional one.
Let us be grateful for all of those people who provide us with parachutes.
Ask yourself, who is packing the parachute on which we have relied in times of stress, confusion, doubt, joy and other needs.
In the story of the transfiguration, Peter, James and John, were given a parachute of living hope, an assurance that God's beloved son would never abandon them, as they listened to and followed Jesus. The divinity that the three disciples saw in its fullness in Jesus, is alive in each of us.
Lent is a reminder to continue to be the packer of parachutes for others, and to continually thank God for the blessings given to us by others who care for us, never taking such people for granted.
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