This post comes to you from fabled Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at the NAS. How I got here and what happened after is the topic of this entry. But first a forward…
I have often related from the pulpit and in conversations that, for the first 15 some years of my priesthood, whenever I would bless a car, it would soon thereafter be in an accident. It was like clockwork. Someone would ask me to bless the car, I’d warn him, I’d bless the car and a couple days later, news would come back of some fenderbender. I always warned people about that.
One time, however, a lady came back to me and said: “Imagine how bad it would have been if you hadn’t blessed it!”
Yesterday, I had a dreadful travel experience. I had flown to Jacksonville and stayed over at what turned out to be bad choice of hotels so that I could take an early flight out to GITMO the next morning. The RP picked me up, we went to the NAS terminal for the flight, all was well. Then we got on the airplane, a 737 from something called Miami Air. “Hmmm…”, quoth I.
I have a little hobby when travelling of noting the tail numbers of planes – in case I get a repeat… it’s something to do when travel is boring – but I couldn’t find this one on FlightRadar.
And there was no AC.
So, they took us out to the runway and then brought us back. There we sat, in this sauna-plane, for over an hour while they tinkered. Eventually they let us off. Hours later we tried again.
No AC. We flew anyway.
Two and a half hours later we landed at GITMO, completely rung out. I don’t know what the temperature was on that plane, but we were all pretty much soaked through and drained.
There at GITMO, I met far far too briefly my good friend who is the Catholic chaplain here. He is a terrific priest and chaplain. A couple years ago he came to Madison and helped us with our Sacred Triduum. Alas, we just had time for a quick greeting, because he was to get on that same airplane for the return trip…. poor guy. I knew what was in store. And he had been waiting at their terminal in Cuba for this flight all those hours.
So, off I go to explore the base and get oriented. I eventually settled into my BOQ, ate something, watched a movie and hit the rack, determined to sleep in.
This morning I texted my priest buddy to ask if he got to his destination.
“Ha! Ha!”, quoth I. And wrote back something jocular.
Of course, I hadn’t seen the news.
The next 30 minutes or so found me getting my DMR up and running. I have to tether it to my phone, and this phone is Android (for TMobile, the only carried on the base) and it mystifies me. But I got ZedNet up and active.
I got a DX call from someone who asked if the airplane that crashed was my airplane.
“WHAT?!?”, quoth I? “I thought he was kidding!”
Right away I got a hold of my priest friend who was on that airplane that ran off the runway into the river at NAS JAX. He was on the return flight of the plane I had got gotten off in GITMO.
He is okay. There were a few injuries. Some water came in and the hold is probably flooded, so bags and some – I hear – pets are a loss. I’ll spare you the rest.
Now back to my point about blessing cars.
After several hours of uncomfortable waiting at NAS JAX for the GITMO flight, one guy in a small group I was standing with quipped, “Hey Father! Can’t you say a pray for this plane and get us going?”
I told them my story about blessing cars and they all looked a little serious.
The photo, below, I shot immediately after I blessed this airplane.
This is the same plane that, with my chaplain friend, went into the drink at JAX.
Meanwhile, last night before I had heard about any of this, I watched a movie before getting some sleep. It happened to be..
I am so grateful to God that no one was seriously injured in that dreadful airplane.
I told my priest friend about the blessing thing and we both thought that it was a good idea that I blessed that aircraft. It could have been a lot worse.
A story about this airplane. HERE