Charles Plumb was a U.S. Navy jet pilot who flew missions in Vietnam. However, after 75 combat missions, his plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected from his plane and parachuted into enemy territory where he was captured. He spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. After surviving the ordeal and returning home, he now lectures on lessons learned from his experience.
As fate would have it, one day while sitting in a restaurant with his wife, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”
“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”
“It did,” Plumb assured him, “If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
The question is who’s packing your parachute with acts of kindness or because it is their job to do so? Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day as in the case of the man who packed Plumb’s parachute. Using parachute packing as an analogy, there are many kinds of parachute packers we need throughout our lives. Think for a moment about your most basic needs. Who will help you with their acts of kindness packing your physical parachute, your mental parachute, your emotional parachute, and your spiritual parachute?
Thomas Dewar said that, “minds are like parachutes—they only function when open.” All of us have heard the expression “Keep an open mind.” It is an expression used by parents many times when instructing their children about various topics, possible opportunities and just life in general. As adults, we have all learned that each day brings new situations on the job and at home with our family. With each day passing, we learn to keep an open mind about the changes we might experience.
Paratroopers and thrill seekers who parachute from planes for the fun of it all take a risk when they jump from the plane depending upon the parachute to deploy successfully when the cord is pulled. Life requires us to takes some risks and it requires us to have faith and hope that when we do take risks things will work out for the good.
Life is unpredictable because you don’t know what is going to happen from one moment to the next. Life can be wonderful, rocky, smooth, thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. And life takes you on rides like a rollercoaster that you thought you might never survive – and then you do. So, life is wonderful when your parachute is functional and it opens. Make sure that your life is packed with lots of love for yourself, others, as well as God.
By Chaplain Ghosten