Last week we were able to spend some time visiting family near Sacramento, CA. We were there, in part, to celebrate Alan’s dad’s 80th birthday. It was a great milestone and fun to be together for such an occasion.

Alan’s brother is an international pilot who owns a 4-seat Cessna built in the 1950’s. We had the chance to take flight on three occasions while we were there. One morning we flew a quick 30 minutes to a town 110 miles away, just to have breakfast and walk around the quaint little town.

As we were taking off and heading back to their home, my brother-in-law made some comments about taking a long circle around during take-off and some of the benefits of that (as opposed to a straight up take-off).

A metaphor for unhurried living screamed out at me as he described the dynamics. Once we were home I emailed to ask him to give me the details of what he meant. Here is his edited response:

When we took off, we decided to do it in an unhurried fashion. The town (elevation 3419 feet) sits in a valley, surrounded by mountains up to 7,700 feet.

On take-off, it would be possible to make a 90-degree right turn directly to our destination, but we would have had to make a pretty steep climb. That steeper climb results in a slower airspeed, which means less airflow over the engine, which could cause an overheat. Also, the steeper climb angle makes it harder to see over the nose to see obstacles and other aircraft.

Finally, the lower airspeed leaves less margin for error in the event of wind shifts that could cause a loss of airspeed and eventually stall of the wing, resulting in a potential accident.

Conversely, by making a very slow 270 degree turn LEFT, we added 5-10 minutes to our flight time, but it allowed for a higher airspeed, lower pitch angle, and more margin for error by the time we reached the mountains.

Although this maneuver took a bit more time, it provided a cooler engine (which means longer lifetime), better visibility, and better terrain clearance for more comfort for us on board.

Are you with me? Let’s unpack some metaphorical parallels for our lives.

Sometimes heading directly toward your destination in the way that seems best to you, may not be the healthiest or safest maneuver. (Refer back to the paragraph with the 90-degree right turn).

We may not have an engine that can overheat, but we are all susceptible to burnout. Our trajectory may make it harder to see obstacles. We may obscure our own view by taking, what seems to us, the most direct path.

By taking an alternate direction or path that added just a few minutes to the time, the issue of burnout (engine temp) and visibility (nose pitch) was resolved. In the long run our energy (engine life) is extended and there can even be better vision and an increased comfort level.

For some of you, it may feel like I’m stretching it here. But I believe we can pick up life lessons from almost any situation. There are dynamics all around us, natural, mechanical, seasonal and even physiological that can teach us how things work better and even best.

More is not always better. Higher is not always better. Faster is not always better. Sometimes taking a bit more time and adjusting your speed and pitch, even slightly, can be just what you need to extend and enjoy this one wonderful and fulfilling life you’ve been given.

Reflection

  • What unexpected or unhurried path is God inviting you to take?
  • Think back on a situation in which you rushed and then paid for it in some way. How might you have handled that differently?
  • How might God be leading you to take your own, counter-intuitive, 270-degree left turn?
  • What other insights did you catch in the flight dynamics?

AN UNHURRIED COLLECTIVE

From reflecting on our own lives and the lives of those we’ve counseled in the last 25 years, the roadblocks toward a deep and abiding peace in God are many. Transcending these obstacles often involves time, intense effort, community support, and guidance from mentors who fundamentally understand your position.

An Unhurried Collective is a transformative process that is an intensive combination of rejuvenating retreats, individual and group mentoring, and a vibrant virtual community that’s available whenever you are.

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