What do the Blue Angels, the Navy’s flight demo team, have to do with spirituality you might ask?
Well, many things we do in life can be a spiritual practice if…
1. It moves us in a special way that makes us aware of our own inner bliss
2. We start to think to ourselves, “How lucky and thankful I feel for experiencing this moment.”
3. You come full circle to realize that God is present in this moment.
As I watched the breathtaking display of speed and skill unfold before me I felt so alive and inspired by what I was watching. The deafening sounds of the F-18 engines roaring, the beautiful display of flight, and the utmost precision flying done by the extremely skilled pilots touched my soul that day.
My family and I watched the Blue Angels performance last Sunday along the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago at Oak Street Beach. It is a perfect place to view the show without fighting the larger crowed at North Beach. You aren’t quite as close to some of the aircraft performers but for the Blue Angels performance, Oak Street Beach is perfect. The jets scream past you just as close and are just as loud.
My sense of gratitude was sparked in me as well since I was with my wife and two young children. My daughter was cuddling me in my arms and playing with my hat as we both watched in awe as the bright blue jets twisted and turned through the perfectly blue sky. My son was standing next to me, splashing his feet in the water of the big lake to stay cool in the almost 90 degree sun.
I thought to myself what courage and determination it takes to become a Navy fighter pilot, especially the most elite Blue Angels pilot. There wing tips are literally inches apart from each other as they fly at hundreds of miles per hour.
Then I thought of the spiritual pilgrim and how much courage and determination it takes to stay true to the path of a spiritual seeker. It takes courage to be the voice of peace and compassion in a world saturated with violence and hatred. It takes tremendous courage to stand up to injustice and intolerance.
Spiritual practices are difficult to adhere to and it takes motivation and discipline to wake up early to pray, to meditate, to go serve the poor in your community and to give to charity. In some parts of the world, believers and peace activists risk their lives to practice their faith or to stand up to an unjust government.
I continued to let my mind drift, as the jets climbed high into the sky, and thought how lucky I felt to be a citizen of a free nation. I thought about the citizens of North Korea and Syria and how their citizens fear for their safety and the safety of their families. I couldn’t imagine to wake up every day and not have the ability to practice my beliefs in public, to write freely on a blog about spirituality and profess anything I want to!
Yes, these machines flying overhead are war machines and have the potential to do great harm but somehow on that day they rose above their military use and became a much greater symbol.
They gave me a sense of gratitude as I know they protect my nation and my family from powers that may want to harm us. However, they also inspired me to also have the courage and determination to stay on my spiritual path, to have the discipline to follow my spiritual practice, which I know will lead me in the direction I want to go.