Reentering the In-between Place

The cabin’s dark. All shades down. I’m up from my middle seat in a B-777 mid-section, pacing the aisle amidst a couple hundred sleepers. Like river rapids, air rushing over our fuselage blankets all other sounds and provides a steady background for the occasional snort, sneeze, or snuffle. I feel alone in the silent crowd. Unnoticed. Unseen.

computer map of airliner flight path over canada

When I lifted the window-shade we were just leaving eastern Canada for the icy north Atlantic.

I move to the open space dividing Economy from Business Class and stand before the sealed exit. Carefully I stoop down, shielding the tiny window with my body. I slide my thumb under the lip of the plastic shade and slowly push up. A half-inch. A full inch. A thin, brilliant wedge of sunshine explodes. Dare I open it more? I must. Cloud tops tantalize, draw me. I look at the slumbering forms to my left. All wear eye masks. No one moves. Emboldened I push again. A two-inch slot reveals the panorama of broken clouds offering small holes to sea and ice-covered mountaintops below. At thirty-five thousand feet, we’re leaving the eastern shores of northern Canada for the icy north Atlantic.

Dark night inside contrasts with brilliant day outside. My watch reads our departure’s time, but my body clock isn’t yet in sync with our destination. Once more I’ve entered the place that’s not a place, the in-between zone, the hallway of doors leading to countless worlds.

On one hand, I know about the physical reality of earth and sky. As a pilot, I’m trained in the science of balancing dynamic forces—lift vs weight, thrust vs drag. On the other hand, here betwixt all worlds but not within any, it’s actually easier to sense an overarching Kingdom.

The crew of C.S. Lewis’ Dawn Treader saw the mountains beyond the Sun. But they had to gain the sailor’s art to earn the privilege. So too, mastering the aeronaut’s skill grants me access to this realm—at least for as long as the fuel supply allows.

But this time is different. Today I see the distinction between moving as a sky traveler and living as a sky creature. Airplanes help touch the edge of this special space as glasses aide poor eyes. But just as nothing beats seeing with perfect vision, there’s no equal to living life with an open, teachable heart.

Earth plying a much larger sea

Sometimes we realize our entire world is contained within a larger Kingdom

So, I’m curious. What happened the last time you realized your world was a small, but welcome piece of a grander realm?

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