Bungee jumping is tying yourself to a bungee cord and leaping from a bridge or a cliff, expecting the bungee to be strong enough to stop your fall before you splat on the ground. It is not a sport that I ever expect to do. However, there are times in life when a risk begs to be taken – when you must move forward into unknown territory, and you desperately hope that something (or someone) will prevent you from a fatal ending. This is bungee jumping of the soul and this is how I felt when I got on a plane in August of 2012 to fly to Ireland.
I was the only passenger in the plane from Great Bend to Hays, Kansas, so I could sit anywhere I wanted. When we added passengers in Hays, we had to pay attention to the distribution of weight and I was asked to move to the back of the plane – apparently to provide ballast. It worked out nicely, however, because there were four of us back there and it was nice to gab with them and hear their stories.
They asked where I was going so, I told them I was going to Ireland. The next question was, “Are you going with a tour group?” I hated that question. Neither my friends nor I understood why I was going by myself. It dawned on me that there was more to becoming an “intrepid adventurer” than I had realized. For whatever reason, I told them that God was going with me. They weren’t too sure what to do with that answer. Thinking about it, however, it seemed to me that, if I ever needed help, it was now and God was probably the only one who could provide it.
We landed in Denver and had a two-hour layover. This gave me plenty of time to find my gate for the next leg of the trip to Newark. I went to the bathroom and got another bottle of water and sat down to wait.
It was a three-hour flight to Newark. I did make an interesting discovery when we landed in Newark. I didn’t want to go through New York City because it is too big and busy. It turns out that Newark is across the street (in a way) from New York! It was as big and busy as I imagined New York to be!
It was also a little disconcerting because, from the airport windows, I could see where the World Trade Center buildings had stood and where they were building the memorial. Somehow I got it in my mind that our plane would be highjacked and we would be flown into the White House or some other important building. This is when I began my most frequent prayer, “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!”
We were transferred to three different gates before being allowed to board the plane for Ireland. By that time, my panic had internalized and I was too tired to do much (except pray). I ended up with a window seat. Being deathly afraid of heights, I kept the blinds shut but I snuck a peek at the New York skyline. I didn’t ever intend to repeat this experience, but I wanted to be able to say that I saw New York laid out beneath me.
The lady sitting next to me had lived in Ireland for some time and was going back. I told her that I was renting a car and asked if she had any good advice for me. She said that the outside lane of the roundabouts had the right of way and don’t turn right on a red light. I told her that I was hoping to have minimal trauma while I was there and she laughed. “If you’re driving,” she said, “expect trauma!”
We reached Belfast International Airport at 9:30 the next morning. I opened the blinds to watch us land. It was beautifully green! When I got off the plane, I discovered why it was green – the humidity! Somehow, I hadn’t connected that. I made it through Customs without any problem and found my luggage.
I went to the car rental place and got the key for my car. This is when I made discovery #2 – after Newark being next to New York! American cars are not the same as Irish cars! I wanted to go home and I had just gotten off the plane!