I thought I was thankful to be flying! I had just spent precious time with my family that could never have been possible without the miracle of jet aircraft. Many of my family members live 25 hours away by car. Yet, by spending less than 250 minutes in the rarified air of the flight levels, I had been transported into the arms of my distant loved ones!
I planned to thank the pilots and flight attendants when we landed until I realized they were merely the tip of the airline iceberg. At that moment I began to think of just how many behind-the-scenes people had been involved in making my speedy travel possible.
I thought about the many folks who worked in the airport proper. The baggage handlers and the people who serviced the airplanes. The scores of aircraft technicians who kept the airplanes airworthy. And the personnel who were responsible for scheduling and taking care of the multi-tudes of auxiliary airline employees.
I considered the TSA officials and their responsibility to ensure our safety from terrorists. I added the myriad of people who manned the radios and watched the radar screens to ensure our airplane didn’t collide with someone else’s airplane. And the legions of brilliant people who designed and built our amazing chariots of the sky to be remarkably safe.
In addition to the countless others who make air travel possible, I thought about the innumerable pioneers who paved the way for modern aviation; often at great sacrifice and risk! I finally began to see just how thankful I should be to be traveling near the speed of sound in astonishing comfort!
I may or may not thank the pilots or flight attendants on my next flight. But, I do plan to thank dozens of behind-the-scenes people who make flying to see distant loved ones possible. They make up the essential, often invisible people of airline travel, who rarely hear an encouraging word.
And what is true in airline travel is also true behind practically every other major enterprise. I thought about the medical field. I considered the multitudes of invisible people who are behind the doctors and nurses making their life-giving work possible. And what about the famous athletes and movie stars? I realized they could not be where they are without scores of invisible people who enable them to be in the spotlight.
Since my recent training day, I’m going to make a more determined effort to discipline my heart and tongue to be more thankful for the scores of people who make our lives more fulfilling, even though they may be invisible to an untrained eye! May the giving thanks training never end!
Bruce Hendrich is pastor at Oak Street Baptist Church 804 Oak Street • Elizabethon, TN 37643 • 423.542.4022 • oakstreetbaptist.net