Unexpected Turbulence

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Clouds Below, What’s Ahead?
Unexpected Turbulence, Audio Version

Back in the day, in the old pre-flight advisory safety announcements, an airline spokesperson (usually a bored stewardess rehashing a memorized script, intercom in hand) would advise passengers to please wear their seatbelts “in case of unexpected turbulence.” I would often tighten my seatbelt a bit at that point. Unexpected turbulence might occur. I had been told. Have my readers/listeners noticed that the phrase “unexpected turbulence” has been replaced with the words “rough air”? Personally, I prefer the original phrase — unexpected turbulence to rough air. Ruff hair. I’m having a ruff hair day.   

Speaking of which, years ago I worked with a man named Rob. His name, I have tweaked. Rob’s job required that he travel from city to city across a large country in Asia. To traverse the long distances involved, Rob had the option of traveling by train or by plane. To save himself time, Rob would choose to fly, when possible. Rob thus became a frequent flyer, flying frequently over and across a very large country in Asia, one that shall go unspecified. But if you would like to know which one, imagine how someone from Boston might say the word diner. The country rhymes with that. People from Boston often drop the letter r.  

One of Rob’s flights (in the country that kinda rhymes with diner) suddenly got very, very violently bumpy. Without much, if any, warning, the plane flew into some incredibly rough air. Unexpected turbulence… it occurred. Many people on board the flight were not wearing their seatbelts. Human pinball — that’s the description I believe Rob used. People were thrown around the inside of the airplane. People were bouncing off the ceiling of the plane. People got seriously hurt. Rob, however, did have his seatbelt on, probably because he was used to hearing the same old boring, rehashed precautionary announcement. Rob was not hurt, just shaken. By virtue of listening to the same message repeatedly, Rob had been habituated into safety, into wearing his seatbelt. 

To repeat, he had heard the same precautionary announcement, over and over, ad nauseam. He had been habituated, even tediously so, into proper practice. Therefore, when unexpected turbulence came, he was ready, without even knowing it. In the moment it mattered most, he was ready. Although he was very alarmed, he was unharmed, unlike many of his fellow passengers. 

Regarding the very perilous period before his second coming, Jesus emphasized to his listeners the importance of informed readiness: “See, I have told you beforehand.” If you want to know the context of his statement, go read Matthew 24:25 and the surrounding verses. Here’s the same precautionary statement, translated a bit differently: “Behold, I have told you in advance.”

Be Vigilant

We have been told in advance. Expect unexpected turbulence. Be prepared. Be ready. It will come when you’re not expecting it. He will come when we’re not expecting him. All of which is alarming to hear, and ought to prompt some questions, such as: How do I expect the unexpected? How can I be prepared? How can I get ready? How can I protect others around me? What should I do?

Here, let me help you tighten your seat belt. First, you should read the safety instructions provided. They’re easily within reach. All you need to do is take the time to read them. Also, listen to the flight attendants, even if they are boring and mumbling their way through the same old message. They went through extensive training on this — at least they should have. Plus, you usually can tell if they know what they’re talking about. Above all, pay attention to the pilot. He knows what’s going on. He knows what’s up ahead, even when we don’t. You can even call upon him. Unlike a lot of other pilots, he’s truly the very best. And he’s quite willing to hear you and respond to you.

Just so you know, I do have some training as a flight attendant. I cannot see what’s ahead like the pilot can; but I will tell you — from experience and from what I’ve learned — that it feels like we’re already hitting some rough air, some turbulence. It could get worse. I hope I’m wrong. But I think you ought to know. Buckle up, just to be safe.    

Oh, and keep a wary eye on the leader of the country that kinda rhymes with diner. He is behaving a lot like Decius did. See my previous post if this confuses you.

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