February 1, 2021

All Around The Sun

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Subtle shades of cream blue, peach, rose petal pink, ivory. 33,000 feet above the earth will make the looming gaps between sky and soil insignificant. Cracks carve bone out of ice; I glide above the Arctic. Down on the planet’s skin lies Russia.

Did I ever think I would witness the rotation of the sun staying bold and unrelenting, of earth’s arc and end up in places wet with new, wide-eyed wonder? How in the world did I end up revolving around it in such surprising measure?

We are just passing through. Always, simply passing through the steps of life that stretch to moments. Russia will slip beyond us as we move along the air, and when we land on the outskirts of Asia, there is still another leg to go.

The man next to me still smells fresh eight hours in. Spice and Caribbean water. Comfort. His voice dances with blend of places, history, family lines, hands with working knuckle creases. I listen to him talk of his mother and how he cares for her as a son’s privilege, and of his insatiable thirst for travel.

There are stories of us scattered around the globe. These are the words that fill the universe’s pages, honed and crafted by life’s curator, the One who knit the worlds alive.

Outside the sun leads us on, but the lights in the belly of the plane are low, lulling us to try and sleep as they schedule us to adjust to the time zone. My body won’t behave and I shift from my side, back braced against the chair, eyes dry and tired but internal wiring won’t let me rest.

I risk arousing my seatmate and crack a slip of shade. Crags of powder jut from below, texturizing the pattern of our passage. A guessing game—what are we over? Sometimes water, sometimes mountain. I study formations as if I am a geologist; if I set my eyes firm over the lines, I hope to see a caribou or even—because I am so seasoned with sharp sight of imagination—a stray polar bear that has lost her way and is content to roam the cold, white expanse.

I don’t know who I am to be in this position, traversing to the other side of the world, but it is not of my own doing. Only by the grace of God. Only by that do I sit wrapped in a blanket with an expectant heart for the way I’ll be allowed to listen to beautiful people share their stories, and, in turn, share them with the world.

Engine rattles constant. I turn again in my seat, stretch, shuffle past chairs and move along the never-ending aisle. Row after row of faces attached to names, attached to hopes and fears and centuries of life passed down to bring them to this point in time. We are all part of a bigger picture, frames moving in and out of the shot, beating hearts bringing still-frame to flesh.

Everything seems to be expanding, and yet frozen where meant to be. All around the sun we revolve, and make glad our hearts at the beauty of being alone in bodies, of being fully together. Of being human, strung with complexity and simplicity, one in the same. All around the sun we go, walk among the clouds, spun with truth and light.

Sleep again rests heavy on my eyes but I cannot succumb to it. And so I lean a bit closer to my seatmate, the man who I had no idea existed just twelve hours ago, who has a name, a story, grit beneath his fingernails—I breathe him in, take myself to anywhere quiet—everywhere: those untouched mountains, cool and cleansing, the safety of my small island back home swallowed by waves of Lake Michigan and lazy sunsets, or exactly where I am, 33,000 feet above, with a few hundred others just like me, uniquely themselves, full of story, bodies resting, hearts longing—always longing—for more.


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