There was a song that frequently went through my brain anytime I started packing for a return to the field or my native land. Though John Denver wrote and recorded it, my preferred version was done by Peter, Paul & Mary in 1967. It’s a teary-eyed love song but has sealed its place in my “travel-related” repertoire for the entirety of my life.
As Mary sings about the dawn breaking and hearing the taxi’s horn, she’s leaving and doesn’t know when she’ll be back again.
Leaving on a jet plane is the refrain of most modern-day missionaries.
Along with the jet plane, the early morning flights seem to resonate as well—the curse of international travel. Still, we try to grab a few hours of sleep and then wake at 3 a.m. to get to the airport and into the air on time.
Arriving on time is another matter.
I have spent many a day in a crowded airport, pushing and shoving in the non-line to get to the ticket counter to get my spot on a plane. Then, just when you think you’ve made it, you arrive at another leg of your journey only to have your bags set aside and searched simply because you came from one of “those” countries.
I’ll never forget my fear at Heathrow, as I traveled, along with a baby and toddler, watching everything in my neatly packed luggage get pulled out and searched. When I mentioned that I could miss my connecting flight, the reply came with a smug, “Yes, that’s possible.” Thankfully, I made it, but only just.
If it’s not bad enough to have a thirteen-hour layover in Frankfurt, there are times you have the unexpected sixteen-hour one stuck at JFK with no access to the food court or comfortable chairs. Thankfully, we had the blankets from the plane with us, so we could sit on the floor and try to rest until they found us another flight out.
And we won’t even talk about luggage.
So, yes, as I hear the news about the shortage of pilots, long delays, and canceled flights this year, I’m reminded that even when flights and pilots were at one time plentiful, there are no guarantees of arriving on that jet plane on time.
So kiss me and smile for me. Tell me that you’ll wait for me. Hold me like you’ll never let me go. ‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again. Oh babe, I hate to go.Written by: Denver John
Thankfully, we have One who goes before us and knows our every step on the ground and in the air.
We might be leaving, but he’s watching.
Grace and Peace