Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Flying with Your Landing Gear Down
By Don Iannone

Ten minutes into our flight home,
the pilot informed us that we were flying
with our landing gear down.
He didn't sound overly concerned,
so the passengers did not react in panic, but
you could feel the tension in the air
throughout the cabin of the 50-seat Embraer RJ145.

Fifteen minutes later,
the pilot came back on to inform us
that he and his first mate were successful
in getting the landing gear back up.
Relief filled the airplane cabin.
I know that I was not the only person on board wondering
whether the crew would be able
to get the landing gear back down
once we were ready to land in Cleveland.

Flying has always been a mystery to me,
even though I do it all the time.
But flying isn't even one percent the mystery of dying,
which plagues our imaginations
from nearly our first breath in life.
No one I know would pick a plane crash
as their preferred way to die, but then
is there really any preferred way to die?
Some people, it seems, find it easier to rest
in the thought of their own impermanence.
I believe for all it is a struggle accepting
that we cannot be forever as we are now.

At this very moment, I look into my own heart,
and there I find remarkable peace
with the knowledge of not knowing
what will become of this airplane
and our lives attached to it.
I'm a long ways from a complete acceptance
of my own impermanence, but
for this moment, there is peace, and
a belief that the landing gear will work
once we are ready to land at our destination.

There is something symbolic in the notion
that at times all of us fly with our landing gear down.
Could this be what happens to us
when we are afraid, and
fail to trust God to deliver us?
In this moment of unknowing,
there is a knowing that can only be experienced
within the unknowing moment.
It is the consciousness that we are here,
while we are here, and
there will be a time for each of us
when we will be no more.

This situation is a reminder to me that when I fly,
I should draw up my landing gear and fly, and
when it is time to land, it is time only then
to put down the landing gear, and
when the time comes...
that my landing gear fails me finally,
I shall release all that holds me,
and fly into the arms of the universe
that will cradle me until
I am ready to sprout my own wings.

PS: This poem was written during our flight from
Burlington, Vermont to Cleveland, Ohio on
December 26, 2006. My wife Mary and

Mother-in-Law Ginny were on the flight with me.

The landing gear worked as we landed in Cleveland.
We were greeted by a team of fire trucks and emergency
vehicles whose services were thankfully not needed.

I rejoice in offering this poem to all those who struggle
at times with their own landing gear in life.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your wisdom and compassion and courage, Brother Don.

jel said...

Glad you had a safe trip!
me DON'T like to fly!!!!!!!!!! nonono

polona said...

i'm glad everything turned out fine and you landed safely.
i love your take on this.

iamnasra said...

Very Insightful poem...Its makes think abot life and death

This line has double meaning:
once we are ready to land at our destination.

Al Hamdullah (Thank God ) All went well

Don Iannone said...

Thanks Dan, Polona, Nasra, and jel. Indeed, this was a wake up call for me, and I am trying my best to heed. Just what I needed. The universe tends to send us what we need...we need only be attentive and see it. Blessings to all of you.

Anonymous said...

Stay Grounded Don
I have a feeling you are already an Earth Angel wings or no wings.
Glad all is well.

GEL said...

My heart was in my throat as I read this. So glad everyone on that flight is safe. Those type of jolts are- well you described it well.
Those close calls in life weave more threads through your already textured fabric. Happy New Year to you and yours.

Don Iannone said...

Thanks Christina and Gel. What's amazing is the gift of peace that I felt through the whole ordeal. I am grateful for that.

floots said...

glad us was well
and that our own landing gear functions

Don Iannone said...

Thanks Floots. When you fly...just fly.

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