Fr. Stan Holland TOR one of the priests at my parish, wrote about the following story in his weekly column for the parish bulletin. I should note here that Fr Stan is a character, a Vietnam Vet as a soldier, not as a Chaplin, an engineer, a former Peace Corp worker and now a Franciscan Priest. He is one of the happiest people I have ever met.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ THE PARACHUTE
Charles Plum, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a jet fighter pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected & parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured & spent six years in a Communist prison.
He survived that ordeal & now lectures about lessons learned from that experience.
One day, when Plumb & his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up & 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 & gratitude. The man pumped his hand & 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 Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him on the Kitty Hawk. I wondered how many times I might have seen him & not even said good morning, how are you or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot & 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 & folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.
So I ask you all as Fr. Stan asked us, whose packing your parachute? Your physical parachute, mental parachute, emotional parachute, & spiritual parachute." Have your thanked them recently?