pull down gently to release the flow of oxygen

airplaneA yellow mask springs down from the clear tube attached to the hand of a flight attendant. “Pull down gently to release the flow of oxygen. Place the mask firmly around your nose and mouth before pulling on the elastics to tighten. Be sure to put on your mask before assisting others.” He exaggerates a tugging motion like a Broadway cat pawing his whiskers.

If you have spent any amount of time flying you will have it drilled into you that you won’t be any good to anyone else if you run out of oxygen while helping the person who has less strength and ability than you. Thinking slows down and motor functions become sloppy until there is just not enough strength to help others, or survive.

I had barely landed back in Dublin before I was being told off by friends about the schedule I was jumping into this week. “What can God do with a dead Christian? What good is a dead Christian to him?” I was asked. My sleep deprived self couldn’t quite vocalize the response that immediately came to mind, “What good is an alive one?” It’s rare that someone who doesn’t 100% (80% minimum) believe in God would ask that question as if it really matters. Apparently, it did to him and I was curious to know why. Unfortunately, you can’t get answers to questions that you don’t ask out loud. I’m pretty sure that I smiled and laughed anyway. Who really says things so straight like that?

In this life, love is our oxygen. Food and shelter, we can exist on only those but we cannot fully live. Not this love – that cloudy word that has been reserved for parents and their children, or two people with hearts in their eyes. Not this love – that all-inclusive abstract thought, so slippery and fleeting just as you reach for it. But this love – that tangible expression of kindness when we haven’t deserved kindness, patience when we haven’t deserved patience, acceptance when we haven’t deserved acceptance. It’s that wholehearted embrace that comes after a truth filled explosion of all that is good and bad. No, we cannot live without this love.

Do you feel the love being sucked out of you as the pressure in your life changes? Are you the strong one and yet think that you can help others without putting on your mask first? What good is a corpse? Find love. If left alone in nothing but your thoughts and silence, cry out, “Love! Love me!” Search for that perfect love that takes fear and destroys it. Pull down gently from the heartbeat of heaven, cover your nose and mouth, tighten and breathe deeply. Then, assist the person next to you.