The Diary: On Flights, Music and The Muddled Lives Of Heroes

Between work and visits to family, I travel quite a fair bit by air each year. Already though, 2017 is on course to be my most airborne yet – love-hate relationship with flying notwithstanding.  The thing with S has been a big part of that, more so over the last few weeks, five of the last six of which have been spent down south. In times like this, even I have to admit- however grudgingly – the usefulness of being able to just fly. I shudder to think of how many hours I would have spent on trains or coaches over the last few days if flying was not an option.

Coming up to Aberdeen on this last but one flight of the lot, the relatively seamless BA experience I have enjoyed over the last few months falls apart, my 9.00pm flight ending up being delayed by an hour. That turns out to be the least of my worries as upon arriving at Aberdeen we have to wait to disembark, and then spend over an hour at the taxi rank for a taxi home. The official reason for the delay with de-planing is that the hold is full and we have to stay on until it is emptied to prevent the plane from tipping over.  Ironic cheers greet the announcement, not helped I suspect by the tone with which the pilot relays the reason. By his own admission, it is the first time he has heard that used as a reason. All told, by the time I get home at 12.45am I am barely lucid. How I manage to make it into bed remains a mystery but somehow I do.

My trusty headphones – and music – have been indispensable companions on these jaunts. Most recently I have had Lecrae and Tori Kelly crooning into my ear, the song being the catchy I’ll find you tune. It is a song I stumble on on Spotify on one of those days on which I am mindlessly letting it decide what music I hear. My interest is piqued enough to put the song on repeat whilst I hunt down information on the song, from which I find out the video is in support of a children’s research hospital and comes from a place of pain for folk they know who were battling cancer at the time. Its themes – fighting through a difficult season but knowing there’s someone who’ll make the effort to support one are ones that are uplifting and comforting in their own way.

With the benefit of a clear head a few days later, the question of how much of a distinction there can be between spiritually uplifting stuff (read music, sermons etc) and the messengers who bring them to us comes to mind. A few years ago, the Hillsong song Healer was a firm favourite of mine, made all the more interesting by the back story – the writer of the song was apparently dying of cancer. That was later shown to be false which prompted a huge backlash and calls for the proceeds from the song to be returned and a number of the organisations which had provided him a platform moving to distance themselves from him. Lecrae himself has stirred controversy with comments he has made about not being a Christian rapper and his outspoken support of Black Lives Matter.  Eugene Peterson, creator of The Message paraphrase, also drew some flak for apparently shifting towards endorsing same-sex marriage, a position he had to clarify very quickly.

All told, there does seem to be a tendency with Christendom to throw the baby out with the bath water and immediately distance itself from folk who seemingly stray from the weathered centre ground of orthodoxy. Two views I have found helpful on this subject of what to do with the ‘muddled’ lives of highly visible messengers come from John Piper and Russell More in the aftermath of the Peterson shift that was not. Truth remains truth, human vessels are inherently flawed and their output should be read through the lens of the bible itself.


Weekly Photo Challenge – Waiting


The downside – or some might say it is an upside – of having family on three continents is I spend quite a bit of time in airports waiting; to board, for baggage, to be picked up or sometimes to catch my breath after what can sometimes be a battle to get through immigration and customs, no thanks to the power of my passport.

The interplay between costs, stopover lengths and distance sometimes mean that only the very earliest of flights are workable for me, which is how I ended up at the airport at about 6.00am on this day. All in a day’s worth of waiting, I guess.

For the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, Waiting.

#84 – Airports..

#84 - airport - waiting

Surely I am not alone in thinking that sometimes waiting in an airport with far too much time on one’s hand can often be the most stark reminder of aloneness…

Letter from St John’s


If all goes well, by the time you read this, I will have spent just over 18 hours in St John’s, North America’s oldest city, depending on who you listen to.  As I type away in Evernote on my laptop, my view is considerably less fascinating than what I have been looking forward to; the 3 day ginger stubble of the fellow in seat 26D, my notes and the tepid remains of coffee in a Styrofoam cup occupying the full extent of my vision. The map on the entertainment console in front of me indicates that I am now half way across the expanse of the Atlantic stretching between the western edge of the Republic of Ireland and St John’s, not entirely a comforting thought to be surrounded by all that water.

This is a trip which has been three years in the making. When I made it back to Nigeria in the summer of 2012 for Sister #2’s wedding, the last thing on my mind was that it would be the last time I would see my kid brother. Between then and now, life has happened, taking in a change of continents on his part, and a difficult year of work  on my part.

The primary objective is catching up, and God knows we do have a lot of catching up to do, but that St John’s has unique attractions of its own is not something lost on me. The plan is to get screeched in – R at work has made such a fuss about it that I am keen to experience it for myself – and then get to see as much of the city as I can. If time  – and bravery- permit, I may get to break my ziplining duck, the North Atlantic Ziplines are the longest in Canada they say.

Before all that there is the small matter of three more hours of flight time to deal with, whilst cooped up in seat 26F of this Airbus A319, not exactly the most comfortable but not the worst either. Plenty to ponder before this 10 day adventure begins.. Roll on!