Full Flight Jackets!
Once more the five foot, two inch, blond-haired professional of nearly 30 years, passed through the spacious length of Boeing’s 747-8I cabin. For this energetic, often intercontinental airline stewardess, this marked her third extended flight of the week.
It was only the first Tuesday in June and for Lynn Chambers, her heaviest work schedule had just begun.
As such, her current “luggage” of jet lag” was more so than usual. On top of that, her itinerary was from Boston to Houston and then to the British Virgin Islands. A very, very long day loomed ahead of her.
Pushing off any lingering thoughts of sleep, she straightened up and moved onward with her pre-flight inspections.
Not at all unaccustomed to lengthy voyages over land or water, so she’d built up a certain tolerance to the schedule demands. As a bonus, her 8 years of experience had indeed provided her with visiting different countries…but not like the recruiter had said. It had proven to be more like visiting JUST the airports and nearby hotels of those countries.
Still she had encountered several cultures with all their wonderful nuances. All the while she was accommodating upscale vacationers, newlyweds bound for a romantic cruise, everyday business professionals and…everyone else in between. So she’d been there. She’d done that…countless times.
Then, just to interrupt her mundane reflections, an overstuffed duffel bag nearly tripped her. Lunging out from the nearest Economy seat on her left, it seemed determined to get her attention. After a moment of frustration, she bent down and managed to dislodge the light brown object. Once secured, she slowly stood with it in both hands.
In doing so, she made a quick, mental note that the seat itself was empty. Its likely occupant and this baggage owner must have had to attend to more pressing matters.
“Bathroom first, nap second” she muttered to herself and lifted the offending piece of luggage into the overhead compartment. Then picking up right where she’d left off, she proceeded with her memories and the replay of another personal highlight reel.
Now there weren’t a particularly large number flying on this leg to Houston. Even so, though the wide variety of passengers was evident as usual, many more of the 410 seats sat unusually vacant. “Lesser the crowd, the better” she mused while mechanically checking off her list of to-do’s.
The next early morning half hour was consumed with onboarding eighty or so, automaton-like figures. Wearily dragging themselves seatward on this red-eye flight, there weren’t any expressions of excitement.
Of course, there were always exceptions. Usually in the form of a small child with boundless enthusiasm and annoying lungs, so one somehow managed to get aboard every trip. This occasion did not disappoint either.
And there she was…a 4 year old little girl. Complete with faded pink leggings, a white Zelda tee shirt and a short haircut; she bounced around like Tigger into another Economy seat. Her young parents then took seats surrounding hers and began stowing their luggage. All the while, this miniature version of them kept talking excitedly about the trip.
Lynn casually observed the fatigue in both parents and staunchly reiterated her own mandate. “Note to Self: No dating, no relationship and no children till I’m through school.”
Studying for her BSN degree, so these long flights helped provide both the lengthy study time needed for an advanced nursing degree…and an income. There just wasn’t time for anything else.
Scanning the sparsely populated expanse, she counted the number of passengers boarded versus the electronic total she’d gotten from Sales. “84 on the nose”, she confirmed. “Good to go.”
With a nod to the front, the intercom then crackled to life as the voice of another stewardess began to introduce Lynn for the flight demonstrations.
Never making eye contact during these exercises had become her routine. Thoughts of “No one watches, everyone’s flown before, we’re not going to crash anyway” were always heard while she kept her hand motions aligned with the audible directions.
The monotone words, mirrored by Lynn’s movements, combined as they both went through the motions in a brisk yet automatic fashion. As such, they completed the mandatory safety exhibit in barely a minute.
As they finished and Lynn stowed away the seatbelt and oxygen mask props, she took a quick glance around to see if anyone’s life had been “drastically transformed” by the basic demonstration.
Curiously, three sets of eyes were smiling and watching her intently. The first was an elderly man near the front who appeared emotional. His eyes were quite moist and tissues were resting in each hand.
The next intent onlooker was a professionally dressed man who seemed more in his early thirties than late twenties. With a sympathetic and soft gaze, he reflected sincere appreciation. She nodded her head, thankful for his surprising yet kind gesture.
Lastly, and to no surprise, there was the overly active little girl. She stood on her own seat with her arms draped over the back of the empty seat in front of her. Producing several, infectious giggles and a few Tigger-sized waves, so she remained watching Lynn until the pilot’s voice distracted them both.
“Flight attendants, prepare for take-off please. Cabin and crew, please take your seats for take-off.”
With this announcement, their connection was momentarily broken. But as the elder of the two looked again, those tiny, side-to-side waves she’d seen had now turned into funny, downward motions. The indication was clearly that the adults needed to get seated too!
Then mirroring the childish expression, Lynn vigorously waved back. This promptly produced another set of giggles until finally satisfied, the little girl sat down and put on her own seatbelt.
So as Lynn walked to her seat at the back of the plane, she passed by the still attentive young man. Given the opportunity for a closer look, she observed that thick, black hair accompanied his defined yet less than granite features.
His engaging smile remained throughout their visual exchange and as she moved beyond his seat, her peripheral glance caught sight of movement.
She was two steps past before recognizing that he’d simply picked up a small blue book from the open seat next to him. This minute detail would have had no bearing on their flight if not for passing the elderly man several steps later.
With his eyes now dried and focused downward, he was also intent on reading. She could see his book already in hand. It was also blue in color and looked small, but she dismissed any relevance. “Flying 101: Books are a great way to pass time on long trips.” So she chided herself for thinking otherwise, even for the moment.
Finally reaching the rear of the plane, opposite the food carts, she turned to lower herself into the curved, fold down seat. After buckling up and settling in, she watched as the interior lights predictably flickered off and on a couple times before resigning to a restful state. As if on cue, Lynn exhaled and closed her skeptical eyelids as the plane began picking up speed. It was time for her usual power nap.
After not nearly enough time, her brief yet satisfying slumber concluded. The pilot’s nearly monotone speech was once again carried through the intercom system.
“We are leveling off at 32,000 feet and will reach Houston in approximately 3 hours and 43 minutes. Temperature is Houston is a balmy 89 degrees with light, northeasterly winds of 5-6 miles and hour. We’ll be turning off the seatbelt sign momentarily so sit back, relax and enjoy the flight”.
Once more, as if on cue, Lynn’s eyelids were unshuttered and she promptly stood to assist with the upcoming food cart duties. Over the next half hour or so, they made their way to the front of the cabin. Engaging and courteous, both stewardesses made all the passengers feel at ease, including the three strangers who had caught her eye.
First, there was the old man who called himself, Warren. The young man was Hudson and the little girl’s name was Abbi, with parents Roy and Lakin. But nothing they said was mysterious nor out of the ordinary and no other passenger said anything she hadn’t already heard a thousand times. Just slightly different versions of the same stories.
Finally, as they wrapped up the snack hour, Lynn commented to her counterpart, Julia, how she was looking forward to staying overnight again in the Virgin Islands. This wasn’t a regular scheduled trip for her but a nice diversion every three months.
As Julia responded with her own expectations of the trip, they were pushing the cart back into storage. Their conversation nearly overshadowed Abbi reading out loud…just a few seats away.
As such, Lynn refocused her attentions on the higher pitched voice while pretending to listen to Julia’s ramblings. While unable to discern any words, she could see the book’s title, “The History of Flight!”
Being a thin, large print, hardback book with a small blue cover, so it probably was about the Wright Brothers and the history of flight. A gift store purchase, no doubt.
Returning her attention to Julia, she had just finished with an emphatic, “Am I right? Yes sir. You’d better believe it!”. Without any further discussion so they both went to their seats and waited for the occasional call light.
Thankfully the rest of their journey went by both quickly and without event. “Except for those three sisters”, she noted, shaking her head with a smile. Just 5 rows ahead sat a blond, a brunette and a redhead who were telling jokes a little too loudly. “Good LORD!”, she thought to herself. “They giggle as much as Abbi!”
Fortunately, because of the predominant peace, Lynn grabbed another power nap and again was reawakened by the customary pilot’s announcement. “We will be landing shortly!”, he informed and added that the stewardesses would be making a final check of the cabin.
At his direction, she dutifully lifted herself up and while stifling a quick yawn, began the task of picking up any loose trash. She also had to re-instruct the still giggling triplets to turn off their cell phones. With great compassion she’d had to redirect an elderly couple back to their seats because they hadn’t landed yet. But other than those two events, all went smoothly.
Upon reaching the young man, Hudson gave her the same respectful look. He was all packed with seat table up and locked. Julia had attended to many of the others and finally, at the front, she found Warren fairly excited. He couldn’t wait to get off the plane and was in great spirits. Aside from his book, everything else was in place.
After completing the last crosscheck through the plane and coordinating with Julia, Lynn again took her seat, buckled up while giving another energetic wave to Abbi.
Soon the immense, 224 foot wide wingspan of the intercontinental 747 began shadowing the airstrip. It even seemed to stretch on forever to many staring out of their windows. Then, just moments later a slight jolt was felt to the relief of most and to the squealing delight of one, Abbi.
Now that they’d safely landed, Lynn was always happy to label a flight as uneventful. “Less mess, Less stress” she told herself. With another internal smile, she picked up the intercom microphone.
“Please stay seated and with your seat belts fastened till the plane arrives at the terminal.” She then gave Abbi a “semi-serious look” and added, “Thank you for choosing us for your travel plans today and we hope you’ll fly again with us soon!”
As the lumbering jet’s slow progress towards the terminal was both lengthy and predictable, it was always one of those awkward moments when people suddenly felt triggered to get off the plane.
So, before anyone could block the aisle, she made her way straight to the front to thank passengers as they deplaned.
In the past she’d even had to have one unruly passenger taken off the plane. They’d been placed into handcuffs for violently refusing to comply and causing a disturbance.
But thankfully…not this trip. Still, as the 250 foot air vessel rolled up to its parking place, the predictable “running of the bulls” activity began. People rapidly stood up, looking like they were trying to get out of a burning house.
Others shot up from their seats to search ahead, around and through others as if chasing some imaginary character who could explain why no one was moving.
Some competitive souls were even jockeying for a “one step” advantage over the person just across the aisle. But she’d learned long ago to expect these impatient responses and dealing with them was just part of the job.
Finally Lynn got the green light to open the outer door. Once it had been swung out and secured, Julia starting letting people pass. This prompted dozens of the shortest, and most repetitive conversations.
It was difficult to be sincere with each passerby who often appeared driven like a bull in a China shop. But eventually the steady stream of people had slowed along with the waning. surface level discussion.
She then motioned to Julia, “asking” if that was everyone, having not seen little Abbi nor her parents.
“Not yet”, came the reply. “There’s just 5 or 6 folks…you got this? I need to get going to catch my next flight, ok?”
Lynn simply waved her to go ahead. Once Julia had grabbed her bags and departed, then she came around the short wall to see into the cabin again.
To her surprise, it was Warren, Hudson, Roy and Lakin, Abbi and…and one other little bundle who were still on the plane!
“How did I miss the little one?” The little bundle was named Evie and she was simply adorable and all smiles. She must have slept the entire trip!
Finally packed, the family of four made their way forward. Abbi was at the front of her troop, bouncing in her Tigger-like way with book in hand. It was a very cute sight to behold.
But once she reached the row of seats in which Hudson sat, she paused to look at him closely. For a few seconds there appeared to be indecision and the cabin became very quiet. However, before Roy could encourage her forward, she continued the spring in her step until reaching Warren.
Lynn then realized that Warren must be waiting on a wheelchair. “That’s why he’s still here.” She watched as he gave Abbi a wide grin. Instantly brightening up, so she squealed with delight. After a few more seconds, she calmed down and carefully put the book into his hands.
But instead of handing it back, Warren thanked her as if it were a gift meant for him. When neither parent watching contradicted nor corrected her, Lynn stood perplexed. As the family exited the plane, both Abbi and Evie were again energetically waving goodbye.
While she watched their slow departure, Hudson had evidently finished texting something. He then brushed past her with a call back of “Sorry! Thank you!” And just like that, only Warren and the pilots remained on board with her.
“You’re waiting on a wheelchair, yes?” The elderly man nodded with a big smile and went back to looking at Abbi’s book. So Lynn double checked with the porters station and confirmed that a wheelchair was nearly there.
Turning back into the cabin, she was met abruptly by the pilot and co-pilot hurriedly heading towards the ramp. “This bird now needs some repairs”, the lead man exclaimed, “so we’ve been scheduled to fly the next plane going to Denver! See you!” And with that parting comment cast over his shoulder, Lynn and Warren were left alone.
Warren, however, seemed oblivious to the dwindling staff and was still reading the History of Flight. His reactions were amusing as that of a young boy reading an action comic book. It was surely more than just a passing interest in the subject. With this observation complete, she turned once again as the airport’s porter service arrived.
But before she could even acknowledge their arrival, the porter looked past her with a welcoming, raised voice. “Warren, you ready?”
Their instant familiarity confused her for a moment before she connected the dots. Warren must fly regularly through this airport. Dismissing her skepticism once more, she stepped aside and waiting as the two similarly aged gentlemen gave each other a hearty handshake.
“You got everything?” Warren looked up and nodded at first. But then, upon further reflection, said he needed his bag. As the porter moved to face Lynn, she caught a glimpse of this older man’s name. Remi.
“Remi”, she started slowly, in case she mispronounced it, “I don’t know where his bag would be. The overheads are all empty. Wasn’t it just outside on the ramp?”
To these questions, Remi just grinned and gave Warren a wink. The tall figure strode along the aisle, still lit with marking lights, until he reached the middle of the plane.
Opening the overhead door above him, he slowly reached in and pulled out the light brown, overstuffed duffel bag. Lynn instantly recognized it as the one she’d put there before takeoff. Remi just as he walked back until standing behind Warren again.
“Now why was your bag so far away from you, Warren?” she said with a teasing voice. “You should have told me and I would have made sure it was put above you.” Warren smiled and thanked her very sincerely. Then he stood up just long enough for Remi to put the wheelchair beneath his backside.
“What a pair these two guys are!”, Lynn nearly said out loud, fondly recalling the old animal movie, “Milo and Otis”. With her growing curiosity, she gazed a tad skeptically at Remi. “So how did you know where his bag was?”
The wise, Cheshire Cat gave an all knowing look towards her and then back to the other elderly man. “Well, my dear Lynn, because I put it there.”
Undaunted by his remark, she continued. “No, I picked it up off the floor and put in the overhead.” She was quick to counter as the skeptic within her was rising up. Besides, he’d used her first name but she’d already taken her name tag off.
Both looking and responding like a blend between Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross, so Remi just pleasantly nodded in her direction instead of responding.
“BUT…I didn’t see you on the plane and…AND you would have had to been in Boston to do that!” Now Lynn was on to something and rather than being upset, she was all the more intrigued.
As Remi placed the baggage in question onto Warren’s lap, he gradually looked her squarely in the eyes. “This flight was truly of the highest importance for Warren”, he said softly. “I’m truly thankful you for your service.”
As Remi began pushing his friend towards the ramp, the inquisitive stewardess followed closely behind. She wasn’t done yet. Then intentionally clearing her throat, she pressed further.
“Now you two know each other, I mean, have known each other for awhile. I just know it. Warren, do you fly through here often?”
He appeared to think it though for a moment but smiled yet again. “No, I’ve never been to Houston before.
“How about Boston? You’re from Boston, right?” Warren just shook his head.
As Lynn’s mind was firing away with more and more questions, Remi interrupted softly. “Follow me…and I’ll show you.”
She stopped for a moment to gather her reply but they kept moving. If she wanted the answers, she’d have to tag along. So she did.
They proceeded in silence up the ramp and turned right into terminal A. All the while Remi was whistling and Warren was looking as if this was the best ride of his life. “This pair must be twins or something like that” Lynn imagined, grasping at straws. Either way, she didn’t dare interrupt.
Without putting a finger on it directly, she knew something was up with these two. “Was this some trick or a prank?”
But after a 5 minute walk and well before she could come up with something to say, Remi stopped their little train just outside of a single, windowless door.
“Did you meet Hudson?” His question threw her off track and down a new rabbit hole. Startled for a second, she stumbled for an affirmative answer.
But ahead of her reply, he made another inquiry. “Did you meet my little Abbi? And her sister Evie too?”
Now she was speechless. Not frightened, not scared in any way…just speechless. Looking at this gentle giant compared to her 5 foot frame, she could only stand there…peaceful, motionless and full of wonder.
But Remi didn’t repeat his questions. Instead his gaze was afar off…somewhere down the hallway or infinitely further. He seemed lost in thought while Warren’s face was filled with joyous anticipation, still clutching the new book tightly.
After a brief look to Warren who nodded in return, he stepped back from the wheelchair, nearly whispering.
“Tell you what I’ll do. Everything has a timetable. If you’re prepared now, like you were as a child, then there’s a wondrous blessing ahead.”
Lynn’s heart spontaneously began singing as decades-old visions of her childhood were pulled from the archives and replayed. Times of when she went to church, talked about GOD and felt…well, felt this very same peace and unspeakable joy. Joy that now overwhelmed every cell in her body!
In full color she saw those occasions when she’d talk to her grade school teachers about JESUS and was eager to do so every day.
With these motion pictures before her, she began to tremble with both wonderful realization and clearest recognition.
Anticipating the future with Faith’s sight reborn, she instinctively stepped up to grasp the wheelchairs’ handles. In doing so both Remi and Warren broke into the same, wide grin.
Finally, the standing “twin” replied, “Through that door is his next flight.” he said. “Open up his bag and hand it to the attendant. Once he boards, then you’ll be directed to your next flight.”
Lynn couldn’t reply. Her tears flowed faster than her understanding. She felt transformed beyond comprehension! After requiring a few moments to collect herself, she was able to turn again towards Remi. But…he was gone. An instant shudder of euphoria swept through her body as she quickly opened the door and pushed Warren through.
Immediately she was inside and found herself again looking into the eyes of Remi. Speechlessly staring in near disbelief, wondering how he got there; she was almost unaware of her hands already lifting Warren’s bag up to the counter.
Then she gasped slowly as the bottom of Remi’s face and his hands began to glow. Lynn now put her hand over her mouth once realizing that the light source came…FROM the bag!
Following the direction of Remi’s gaze, she then watched her other hand join the first in covering her mouth as he pulled out a spotless, glowing robe!
In the blink of an eye, Warren was clothed in its light… and as witness to this miracle, she fell to her knees, weeping and praising GOD! Waves of pure rapture washed repeatedly over her, bringing eternal and permanent healing. Then!
THEN she felt the hand of the LORD set upon her; HIS touch that she distinctly remembered when as a child. Finally, with a deep breath, she found herself transported upright and now standing before HIM.
Awestruck with uncontrollable trembling, so she watched HIM reach into the same bag. Now if the previous moment had indeed been perfect Joy then how could this be measured? For in HIS nail-scarred hands lay another, glowing white robe!
“Beloved Daughter”, HE whispered, “this is for your next flight!”
Lynn instantly touched the robe and joining Warren with the LORD, they vanished leaving Remi alone inside of the airport chapel.
Picking up the book Warren had left behind, this guardian angel rejoiced that Warren, a recently retired pastor who’d just come from missionary trip, had finally been reunited with The MASTER. He got to go home just as he had prayed…in Full Flight!
With his left hand passing over its open pages, he removed Warren’s name from the book and added a new name.
So Remi, tireless and eternal, stretched out his wings in the now unlit room. He would give the book back to Abbi to use yet again. Hudson had done his part having stayed behind on the plane to disable it. This way he and Remi could join those two pilots on their new flight to Denver. One of them was destined for Glory!
“As YOUR servant in their service, LORD”, Remi firmly stated and in full human form again, walked towards the chapel door. He could surely be there instantly but there was enough time before boarding.
With the light brown, duffel bag filled once again and in hand, he began whistling as he exited into the stream of humanity heading…for the next flight to Denver.
As HIServant expectantly awaiting HIS glorious robe of righteousness,