Like a ferocious lion startling the dawn, the engines roared to life. For once, I wasn’t irritated by the fact that I was awake before the sun. Jackson Hole, Wyoming is breathtaking. Stunning beyond words. Who knew thirteen hours in this rustic town was all it took to fall in love. As we taxied toward the runway, I bid the Teton Mountains farewell on a prayer that we’d meet again.
As I readied myself for takeoff, my longing to stay was interrupted by an announcement from the Captain: The plane had a mechanical failure and we had to return to the gate. He had no idea how long it would take a mechanic to arrive and assess the defect, but passenger complaints were few. Time moves differently in places like Jackson Hole. It feels slower, yet intentional. Every second is full, bursting like a woman ready to give birth. It delivers the calm to a world in constant haste.
Back at the gate, things moved more expeditiously than expected. The Captain returned promptly to the PA to inform us that they would be performing a reset on whatever system had malfunctioned:
“The plane will be turned off and everything will go dark for a moment, but don’t be alarmed.”
And so it did. The power was pulled and the plane lost all illumination. The stillness was almost uncomfortable. Voices previously muffled beneath the power of the engines were stripped of their privacy. Although conversation mostly ceased, the words that lingered were like the crisp Wyoming air: refreshing and clear. The fact that I could hear what people were saying at all made me realize how little we actually listen.
Chicago was our next destination. Then back to Newark. And as we flew from the protection of the mountains, I wondered what the world might sound like cut off from its power.
We’d be so lost.
But that’s where our redemption lies. It’s in the knowledge that our connection to things cannot save us. Our bond to one another is key. Learning to love and care for one another is to begin to understand the love of God. And if we can figure out how to live our lives through his love, we can be okay.
Have you ever heard the claim that individuals who are born blind have a stronger sense of hearing than the average person? That’s because they have learned to become reliant on their other senses due to their lack of sight. It’s an advantage through a disadvantage.
I could hear something and not know where it came from because I’d be utilizing all of my average working senses to make a determination. However, someone who is blind has honed their hearing so that they can almost pinpoint exactly where a sound comes from.
If we blinded ourselves from the media, news outlets, social media, and television, we would simply hear one another.
No computers. No Facebook. No phones. Just people. Millions of people speaking in the dark, hearing the echo of their own words. Meeting the eyes of strangers and finding that they have just as much hope and as little fear as themselves. Maybe more. Possibly less.
Without power, we would be able to hear. And if we can hear, we can listen. When we listen, we understand. When we understand, we empathize. When we empathize, we care. When we care, we love. And when we love, mountains become moveable.