February 22


John 5:4, “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”

It happened at about 11pm and at 36,000 ft. I was on a flight back to Chicago, seated next to the window that overlooked the wing. The cabin lights were dim and most people were sleeping. Outside the plane there was total darkness but for the faint blinking light on the tip of the wing. Total darkness. How do they know where we’re going? I thought. I know the answer is electronics but it was still hard to get by the fact that you couldn’t see anything.

For reasons that later became clear, instead of listening to my usual playlists on my ipod I flipped through various playlists looking for songs that are often associated with the civil rights movement in the 60s or are classified as “Negro Spirituals” in the hymnal at church. I started with “Change Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. Then “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield. For some reason these songs of struggle were very comforting.

But it was the spoken prelude to “Wade in the Water” by Sweet Honey in the Rock that hit me so hard. The voice said, “And when there is a promise of a storm, if you want change in your life, walk into it. If you get on the other side you will be different. If you want change and you’re avoiding the trouble, you can forget it. As as Harriet would say, ‘Wade on in the water. It’s gonna be really be troubled water.'” I have always associated this song with Exodus, its use by slaves avoiding capture on the Underground Railroad and baptisms at our church. Yet that spoken prelude caught me off-guard and hit me in the core of who I am. If you want change into your life, walk into it. If you want change and you’re avoiding the trouble, you can forget it. I listened to those words over and over and over. If you get to the other side, you will be different. Oh man.

Something has weighed heavily on me for several years. It was time to wade in. Time to let go of a pain that was beyond my control. I wanted to get to the other side. It was time. Time to let go. Time to be different on the other side. So I let it go, imagining it falling 36,000 ft into the darkness.