(For World Religions class we had to write a one-page piece about a moment of awe in our lives. I wailed and fretted all around the internet, but I’m not actually too ashamed of this page. So I thought I may as well put it up here.)
Last Thursday, I rode three planes as part of my quest to make it home to rural Newfoundland for my brother’s wedding. The third and final flight was a tiny propellor plane, the type which has rows one seat wide and which holds a maximum of 18 people. It took off out of St. John’s in the dark, after nine. I had made my connection with six minutes to spare, after fog delayed the flight out of Halifax. We had been flying in fog most of the day.
When leaving St. John’s, airplanes take a course over downtown and out to sea, turning to head down the flight path to their destination once they’ve come abreast of Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. As the plane started to turn in the air, I realized that I’d see my family again in just half an hour. I could probably count the minutes to reunion.
And then the flight tipped to the left, in that curious gravity-confusing effect of sharply banking aircraft. The horizon twisted away, and I was either looking at the ground or the sky, but for a moment it was hard to tell the difference. The view outside my window had turned to a jewellery-counter spill, gold, silver, emerald and ruby on black velvet. I recognized familiar city landmarks as the lights outside my window resolved into a net of gold underneath us.
I don’t see well enough to see the stars. Most evenings can provide christmas-card smears of brightness. But this moment was clear and wondrous, and in that moment these familiar man-made constellations held all the wonder of the cosmos.