Chapter 31

About 20 years ago I was able to do something that I had wanted to do since I was a boy, learn to fly an airplane. There were many new skills to learn, many of them related to staying safe. It is very easy to get lost when you are flying, and being lost is bad. My instructor had a simple method to teach me how not to be lost. Practice. We would fly the airplane somewhere over Wisconsin where I would be asked to close my eyes, no peaking! My instructor would then take over flying the airplane while he switched off or covered every device that pilots use to navigate. After he flew around in a few lazy circles while my eyes were closed the test would begin. “Okay Rick, open your eyes and fly us back to St. Paul!” There I was, three thousand feet above the ground and traveling at 120 miles per hour in a completely unknown direction. I had been taught what to do in a situation like this, now I needed to do it. Find your way forward, Rick. Today I realize that I wasn’t just learning how to fly an airplane, I was learning an important life lesson.

Chapter 31 of “We Make the Road by Walking” is a review. We have joined Jesus on the hillside as he taught us how to live. Now the teacher is preparing us as we choose our way forward. “It won’t be obvious or easy” he seems to say, “but I have taught you how to do it”. Don’t take the easy path. Be the tree that bears good fruit and not thorns. Build your home on the rock, not on the sand. Live your life with humility and great love for others. Don’t pretend to be good, go for the real thing. You can have “aliveness”, I have shown you how.

I found my way back to St. Paul flying the airplane that day 20 years ago. I knew the time of day, it was late afternoon and the sun was in the west. I flew north, found Interstate 94 and followed it into St. Paul. I had been lost and was found. But in some ways I am always a little lost, not always sure of the best path forward. Let the lessons taught on that hillside be my guide.