A storm hovered over the state of Pennsylvania; always an ominous bit of news when sitting at an airport gate, waiting for zones to be called. Still, with gray skies growing darker by the moment, one by one the nearly 200 passengers of Flight 292 shuffled onto the 300-seat plane waiting at our gate in Philadelphia’s rambling airport.

My seatmate and I sat near the back of the plane, with only one row between the lavatories and us, then the galley. He sat in his assigned window seat; I sat in the aisle seat. The seat between us was unoccupied. When the pilot had called for all cell phones to be shut down and the flight attendants to “prepare for departure,” we exhaled a sigh of relief because it remained that way. As the plane began to roll toward the runway, I reached for the novel I’d been absorbed in for over a week. I was near the end and pretty anxious to know how it concluded.

I felt the plane turn in preparation for takeoff, heard the engines rev, then die. The pilot’s voice boomed over the speaker. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “Air Traffic Control has informed us of a pretty bad storm hovering out there about 70 miles to the south. All flights have been ordered to shut down their engines and wait this thing out, so we’re going to be sitting here for a while. As more information comes in, we’ll be sure to keep you informed.”

We sat in our place and so did the storm. An hour had passed when the pilot’s voice returned. Since the storm wasn’t coming toward us, he said, we would now fly toward it.

Flying Into the Storm

As expected, the flight up and out was uneventful. I had put my novel down for the few minutes between takeoff and cruising toward the thick black clouds. The sky was turning the colors of dusk as the sun made its descent toward the other side of the earth. Somewhere in the distance it was midnight blue. I blinked at the sight of the eventual then went back to my book, half-heartedly thinking that if the flight got bad enough to take us home to Glory, at least I’d know how the story ended.

We hit the clouds. Overhead, letters lit up, telling us to keep our seatbelts buckled and to “return to our seats.” Not that any of us had left our seats, mind you. We all knew what was coming and we’d prepared ourselves. I gripped the sides of my books and my knuckles turned a deeper shade of white. I dipped my head toward the pages and forced myself to concentrate on fiction vs. reality. When the bumping and bouncing of the plane ceased, I leaned my shoulders back and exhaled. Possibly for the first time in several minutes.

My seatmate tapped me on my shoulder and I looked toward him. “Look out there,” he said. With no one between us, I made an easy shift toward the window and peered to the left and to where his finger pointed. Bright and shining alone in the black of night, a star danced, seeming to stretch its light like arms at morning’s light. “Venus rising,” he said.

“Wow,” I replied. In moments like this, there is little else left to say.

“Now, look over there,” he said, pointing to the right.

I turned my head a bit. The sky was a brilliant sunburst of reds and oranges.

“The sunset,” my seatmate said.

“Oh, my goodness….”

“Now look straight down.”

I strained against the strap of my seatbelt but managed to peer down to where dark clouds swirled around a lightening show. My breath caught in my throat at the magnificence of it all.

I leaned back and caught my seatmate’s eyes. “And to think,” I said, “we would have missed this had we not flown into the storm.”

My seatmate, Christian author and speaker Bryan Davis, smiled and said, “There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.”

“That’ll preach, brother,” I said. “That’ll preach.”