Charles Plumb, a US Naval Academy graduate, was a jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy lands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"
"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.
"I packed your parachute," the man replied.
Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!"
Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."
Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: A white hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said good morning, how are you or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot, and he was just a sailor."
Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.
Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?"
Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory—he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
This day’s lesson has pointed out to me that sometimes I go through the day/weeks/months/years forgetting to thank those people who packed my parachute. I get so busy that I forget those things that are the most important. I so admire people who are good at showing their appreciation. So here’s a short list of those people who came immediately to mind who I need to thank for what they’ve done for me:
Barbie – thanks for being my best friend all through elementary school and getting in trouble right along with me for talking in class. You showed me how to be kind.
Mrs. Hook – thanks for convincing me that singing in front of people might be sorta fun – you were right!
Ernie – thanks for being willing to write backyard plays with me – I think that is where my love of writing all started.
Mrs. Strozier – thanks for showing me that girls can learn math and lots of other really important stuff.
Neet – thanks for being my best friend for the last 28 years (although how can that happen when we are only 21?!?!) – you’ve helped me through some hard times and showed me how to not take myself so seriously.
Clarisse – thanks for showing me that an intimate relationship with Jesus is possible – you’ve changed my life more than I think you’ll ever know!
My girls night out friends – thanks for being willing to go see cultural events with me! Although I think my hubby thanks you even more because it got him off the hook of going to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat! You girls have widened my horizons and provided more hours of enjoyment than my Wii!!
I challenge you to come up with your own list of those who packed your parachute. Leave a comment with a link to your blog so we can all thank those folks together. I really believe that if this world was more thankful rather than ungrateful, we would all enjoy our time on this earth a whole lot more.