A. Ray Lee ss

View from the patio

By A. Ray Lee

Columnist

Those of you who regularly read my columns know that often in the early morning I spend time on the patio to watch the day ease in. Sometimes I have tried to paint you a word picture of the views of nature that are revealed as the day dawns. When the sun rises and sparkles on grass covered with dew each day is new and fresh. At such times I am able to lay aside the burdens of the past and rejoice in the freshness I see before me. It is in those peaceful moments that I think most clearly and am inspired by the order and beauty in God’s creation.

Inevitably there are other views not seen with natural vision that are harder to describe for they come through eyes of faith. Recently on one such morning, my eyes were drawn upward into a cloudless sky where I observed four vapor trails marking the trail of passenger jets soaring so high above the earth they could not be seen or heard. They had already passed beyond the horizon but left behind contrails tracing their paths.

In the days of my childhood, people were fascinated by airplanes. Model kits were popular as talented individuals fashioned various-sized replicates of the real thing. Two of my brothers joined the air force as soon as they were old enough. One of them remained beyond his four-year commitment and retired after a successful career.

The first plane I remember seeing up close was a little one-engine machine that touched down briefly in our cow pasture and without stopping slowly rose back into the sky. During WWII I often leaned on a hoe handle to watch military planes from the Moulton training base crisscross the skies above me. At the conclusion of the war, my brothers and I attended an air show at the Birmingham airport which featured the latest combat planes including large bombers and sleek pursuit planes. I was awed by the sight but sensed danger rode with those who flew them.

My first flight happened when I was about fourteen years old. An evangelist flew into Pryor Field and came to Lebanon to conduct a revival. During the week he gave brief rides to interested youth of the church. But it was not until much later when as an adult I embraced air flight as a viable means of transportation. I had been like those who quote the words of Jesus: “Lo(w) I am with thee always.”

In the latter years of ministry, my fears were conquered by faith as I flew many times to missions in Spain and the UK. It remands a mystery to me how a machine weighing multiple tons loaded with several hundred people can be airborne and soar for hours higher than even the sleekest eagle can fly. By faith I confidently looked down upon the clouds trusting in the knowledge of aerospace engineers and the planes they built.

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