Boarding a plane is a lot like going to church. You go into a room full of pews or chairs with people you don’t know. Typically you feel antsy, you want to leave. You choose a seat at the end of the row, so you can turn your face away from your pew neighbor. Then a voice comes overhead. Sometimes it can be God, other times it’s the flight attendant/pastor. They tell you not to worry; everything is going to be okay. They tell you the plan for the next hour. You learn what to do when bad times come. And those of us who are antsy, or just bored, won’t pay him any mind in general. In fact, some of us won’t even feel guilty if we fall asleep, whether it be in a plane or a pew.
After a brief sermon, you feel either spiritually or physically high. Both ways you’re closer to God and you’re ultimately trying to get somewhere, so it’s a good thing you’re up that high. After a while you’re given your complimentary communion. One is wine with bread; the other is flat sprite in a plastic cup with knock off crackers. One is the body of a person who loved and died for you; the other is a body of an organization who wants your money. Either way, the ushers/flight attendants give it to you as your sacred right for being their customer. Being up high, you get to see the landscape and the clouds, whether spiritually or physically. And if you’re flying with Southwest, you can fly to five countries and ninety destinations. And if you’re in a church, you feel the Holy Spirit. And sometimes you feel like you just need to get somewhere, whether it’s just a commute home to Santa Fe or home to Heaven. Sometimes you want to leave, get off the plane, or get out of church. There are too many people, they’re all looking at you as though you come from Mars.
Even though sometimes we feel so small in this big world, we still feel like zoo exhibits. We’ve gawked and been gawked at. Churches and planes are rooms for gawking—at each other, ourselves, or the sky.