Ready for emergencies
- Written by Nancy Williams
January 15, 2009. ‘Seemed like one of those ordinary days. It began as most Thursdays do for me – quiet time to connect with God, a strong cup of coffee and warm shower to get my body, mind and spirit awake. Then off to the office. Nothing unusual, really. That is, until I headed home for the evening. I remember turning on my radio and hearing the news that stunned our nation. I was shocked. I was curious. I was frustrated that the traffic lights were stalling me from getting home more quickly. I raced into the house, turned on the television and saw the almost unbelievable pictures for myself. US Airways Flight 1549 had made an emergency crash landing on the Hudson River in New York that afternoon. And there were no fatalities. We watched the scenes of passengers and crew huddled on the wings of the plane as it floated in the water, clinging to safety devices and to each other as they were carried to safety by rescuers on nearby boats. One hundred fifty-five people, 40-degree water, 20-degree air temperature, an emergency water landing; and yet no fatalities, no major injuries. Amazing. Many called it a miracle. I’m not stepping into that debate about what does or doesn’t constitute a miracle. However, I do know this. From the passenger reports I read and heard, people were praying, seeking God’s protection and deliverance. They felt His presence and trusted Him to see them through a traumatic time in their lives. I believe He was with them every step of the way. The captain of that aircraft, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, has been called a hero. Again, I won’t get into that discussion about heroes but, I do recognize that this is a man who takes his job seriously. He seems passionate about what he believes he’s called to do, and he’s dedicated to doing his life work with excellence. He trained diligently, learning his craft and preparing his mind for whatever might come his way in his role as pilot and captain of a crew. He was committed. He was skilled. He was ready to respond if an emergency came. And what about his crew? The co-pilot and flight attendants also did their part to assist the pilot and passengers, from the landing to disembarking the plane that was taking in water, onto the wings and then to the boats and ferries that came to their rescue. They may have been in the background when it came to the news reports; however, they were also doing their jobs to the best of their ability in the most trying of circumstances. They were able to do so because they, too, were well trained and dedicated to being the best at their roles. When the crisis came, they were ready. And don’t forget about the design team that equipped the aircraft to handle emergency situations, and the maintenance crew who took care of the plane. Consider, also, those unsuspecting rescuers who responded quickly and worked non-stop to get all 155 people to safety. I’ve thought a lot about this event since that day. I don’t know about the spiritual focus of the captain, the crew, or any of those involved with that aircraft or its recovery; but I do think there are lessons to be learned – for all of us. We never know what life experiences we will encounter. We do know that God is with us and has promised to guide us through whatever comes along. We also know He has told us in His word that we are to prepare ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually. We are to spend time with Him, read His word and learn about His desires and directives for us. And we are to guard our minds and hearts as we make careful choices about how to live our lives. Then, we’ll be ready to respond to whatever life brings our way. Commit. Prepare. Trust. When Captain Sully told everyone to brace for impact, passengers positioned themselves as the flight attendants had instructed. Then many of them joined hands and called on God to see them through. And, my friends, I do believe He answered their prayers. Nancy Williams, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor with a counseling, coaching and consulting practice in Kingwood. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net. This article is not to be taken as professional counseling or advice.