Monday, January 18, 2010

High Drama - Black

The horrific devastation wreaked on the island nation of Haiti is very much in our consciousness and on our hearts just now. And yet, as I contemplated writing a piece for this blogspot, I reflected on the near-tragedy of the Christmas Day, 2009, would-be bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Haiti's is an actual disaster of catastrophic proportions. The other was no disaster at all -- except, perhaps, for the deluded individual who endured burns through his own misguided actions. And so I invite you to journey back with me several weeks, as I share an article adapted from what I wrote then.

Flight crew personnel pace through routine protocols, preparing their cabins and passengers for landing. Ah – to get feet on solid ground, see the last of the passengers off, carry out the final check, and complete the paperwork, then kick off those dress shoes for an hour or two. Hmm, nice. Pilot and co-pilot cherish similar thoughts.

Passengers anticipate relatives and friends greeting them with smiling faces – some bearing cheeks tear-streaked with joy, then embracing in loving reunion. It’s Christmas Day. Soon, they’ll be chauffeured through city streets, getting caught up on all the family news, on the final stretch of being "home for Christmas, Happy Holidays." At last, they’ll share a sumptuous seasonal meal with their loved ones.

A young man returns from the washroom, having excused himself twenty minutes or so before, claiming his stomach was a little upset. He tells passengers seated in his row that he feels better now. Reseated, his in-flight blanket is pulled around his waist, concealing his hands; just warming them up, of course. He is, however, injecting liquid acid into a small package of highly explosive material secured in his underwear, expecting this to detonate it and blast a hole in the jetliner, thereby striking another blow against decadent American imperialism.

But the aircraft is not in American airspace at this time, twenty minutes before its scheduled landing at Detroit Airport, in Michigan. Several miles below, Canadians prepare Christmas dinner in Ontario’s Middlesex County. Children squeal and play with new toys. Some families enjoy a delicious Christmas Day brunch, oblivious to the high drama taking place in the skies above.

Suddenly, a deafening, screaming roar emanates from the skies, shattering excited conversation, drowning out blaring stereos and televisions, followed seconds later by catastrophic destruction and a blazing inferno, as hundreds of tons of aircraft, jet fuel, baggage, eleven flight crew, and two hundred and seventy-nine passengers, descend on homes in the Village of Watford, Lambton County, where I live. Hundreds dead in an instant. Sudden destruction. The community is devastated.

No, mercifully, that Watford part didn’t happen. However, it very well could have, for – as I understand – Watford was beneath the flight path of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. Had Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s suicide bomb attack been successful, even if our community had not received a direct hit, a trail of debris might have rained down for several kilometres, affecting and forever changing many of our lives.

Who, but the Almighty knows what stood between that grave scenario and its actually being a non-event? The possibility for the explosion to happen was there. Passengers and staff quickly sprang into action, and the would-be bomber was subdued and unable to make another attempt.
We are often unaware how close we come to a dramatic altering of our plans, or to disastrous intrusions into our lives, or even their sudden end. It’s just as well, for there’s no joy in living in fear. It is much better to live with confidence and faith. Those Northwest Airlines Flight passengers had quite a narrow escape; our community had more of an escape than we dare imagine.
Let us progress through this New Year with deep gratitude and humility, courage, and faith. Not faith in ourselves, but with confidence in God’s provision for our eternal welfare through the Gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and by His death and resurrection. Let us embrace Him.


The original article was published in The Watford Guide-Advocate, Jan. 7, 2010, in Peter's column, P-Pep!


Dolores Ayotte said...

Thanks for the eye opener Peter. What was...instead of what could have been. A real disaster was avoided. Thank God!

Peter Black said...

Thank God indeed, Delores.
I'm sure we are spared tragedy more often than we are aware.
Thanks for commenting.

Glynis said...

Oh my goodness, Peter. What a way to put thing into perspective of what 'could have been.'
Thanks for this and for reminding me that life can be so fleeting and fear can be so paralyzing. Thank goodness we have Jesus to balance things out and to give us peace that passeth all understanding! I especially love your last encouraging paragraph!

fudge4ever said...

We take our peace and security for granted, don't we! Thanks for the reminder that life is fragile and that God is all around us even though we don't think about it.
(P.S. I have a copy of your book "Parables from the Pond". I just got it yesterday and I'm really enjoying it. It's adorable.)

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