Remember the time that I took SIMAir from Niamey to Galmi . . . and the throttle jammed . . . and we couldn’t land . . . and we had to fly back to the Capital . . . and brace for an emergency landing . . . and then the plane had a miraculous healing???
Well, my flight today started off kind of like that, except, instead of the throttle, this time, it was the toilets!
I've logged my fair share of flight miles . . . and even more in the past six months! I have my own chronicles of in-air (and not-yet-off-the-ground) misadventures . . . I was once on my way to Australia when we were rerouted to Hawaii and then turned around and sent back to LA . . . one time, I got stuck in Casablanca when the inbound flight 'disappeared from the radar' . . . I was once sound asleep when my plane landed in Ouagadougou to drop off some passengers and I began to disembark thinking we had already reached our final destination . . . once, my flight was next in line for take off when the pilot pulled the plane over on the side of the tarmac, where we sat for an hour because a passenger in first-class was concerned about the dog she stowed in the luggage bay.
With travel, comes good stories.
But today, was a first!
Having already left the gate and begun our taxi, we suddenly stopped.
And then we sat.
For 45 minutes.
Finally the pilot came over the loud speaker to inform us that the lavatories were out of order and therefore we could not take off.
It's true, I don't know much about flying a plane . . . Captain Ed taught me that take-off is optional, but landing is mandatory . . . I know that there are no road signs, only instruments on the dashboard telling us where to go . . . and I'm fairly certain that as long as the nose of the plane stays between the wings, we're doing something right.
What I didn't know is that there is clearly an essential relationship between the turbines and the toilets. Or maybe it's the lavatory and the landing gear.
Which didn't make sense, because SIMAir flies all the time without a potty.
Regardless, we couldn't take off.
Sitting back at the gate where we had shoved off an hour prior, I began to chuckle at the thought of the necessity of functioning bathrooms for a flight.
But the truth is, they are in the plane for a reason . . . kind of like the seat-back-tables, emergency exits, beverage carts, and oxygen masks. Some parts are for our comfort, others for our safety.
When I'm scheduled for a long-haul flight, I often go online and check out the in-flight entertainment . . . I want to know which movies will be available in order to know which books to pack in my carry-on. I never, EVER check out where the exit rows are (unless I'm hoping to move my seat for some extra leg room). Not because they aren't essential, but because I don't think about them.
And sitting there waiting for our john's to get their act together, I began to think about the parallel with the Church . . . and Paul's letter about how each of us are essential. Instead of airplane parts, he uses a more cultural-context-appropriate example of the human body. He reminds us that the eyes and the hands are different . . . they are made of different types of tissue and have unique functions . . . but both are needed. And in the body of Christ, everyone has an important role!
When inflight, the captain doesn't think about the loo . . . he's locked in his cockpit . . . he's concerned with his engines and instruments. But for those of us in the way-back, of course those are important to us, but we don't think about them! We don't concern ourselves with the working-order of the whole, we think about the arm-rest-earphone-jack and the close-the-lid-then-flush cans in the back.
Even the soap has a most important function!
But could you imagine if instead of the ear and foot, Paul had actually written: The auto-pilot cannot say to the lavatory 'I don't need you!' and the the landing gear cannot say to the beverage cart 'I don't need you!' On the contrary!! Those parts of the plane that seem to be weaker are indispensable!
No, that would just be silly.