Fear of Floating? Index Home

I don’t know how you feel about flying.  I love it – most of the time, anyway.  I first flew in the 1960’s when, as a “wee boy” I was taken on a trip from Glasgow to Edinburgh .  This was hardly a long haul flight, but it was a great surprise, and although I don’t remember the detail, I remember enjoying it a lot, and not worrying about it.  Later on (after “emigrating” to England ) there were a couple of holidays when my brother and I were treated to flights back up to Glasgow from Manchester .  We went on our own, to stay with an aunt, and were treated like royalty by the staff of BEA (that dates me – younger readers may care to know that BEA was one of the predecessors of British Airways!).

As an adult, I have been lucky to have a mixture of opportunities to fly.  On the “pleasure” side, there have been flights to go on holiday, mainly in Europe , just a few times beyond.  My engineering career has required me (not that I took much persuading) to fly as far as Los Angeles in one direction, Korea in the other, with quite a number of more local flights to France and Germany in between.  I am not saying I always enjoy the travelling and being away from home, but the flying itself is usually a great treat.  Before our children were born, I even took some flying lessons at Baginton.  I always tell people that I got as far as being able to take off by myself, but never mastered the art of landing!

But those flights in a two-seater plane were the most exciting of all.  To be able to see all round you while flying adds to the thrill.  To see the ground being left behind, clouds above and to each side – great!  It’s funny, but I feel safe looking straight down from an aircraft in a way that I never would if I was standing on top of a tall building, or at the edge of a cliff.  Maybe its something to do with being an engineer and assuming that other professionals have played their part correctly in working out how strong the various parts of the aircraft structure have to be to stay together in the air.  At the top of a cliff I only have myself to rely on, and sometimes that’s harder.

During a recent holiday I was able to take part in snorkelling for the first time.  This was on an island which was edged by a coral reef.  The best way to see the coral, the fish and other sea creatures was to swim out over the reef, looking down.  It struck me while this was going on that this was as close to flying like a bird that I am ever likely to get.  And as I got to the edge of the reef (no more than five or six feet deep), the coral fell away and I was suddenly swimming over the darker blue of the Indian Ocean, maybe 25 or 30 metres deep.  Rather illogically, at first it felt less safe to be swimming over the deeper water than over the shallower stuff.  But as time went on I realised that it was all the same.  Whether it was deep or shallow, the upward forces allowing me to float were still there.

We can catch sight of another aspect of God’s personality if we think of life as being like experiencing deep and shallow water.  We are most likely to look for God – to support us – when we feel unsafe or threatened, in danger or “out of our depth”.  And of course he is there.  But he is also there when we feel confident.  He is there when we are happy.  He is there when we happily drift through the shallows of life, just looking at the pretty fish!

 (c) Copyright Bill Young 2004