It was a warm summer’s day in the Midwest and I was about to take off in a small airplane with a FAA approved flight examiner.  As I pushed the throttle as far as it would go, we rolled down the runway and took off for what was my flight examination to be a licensed pilot.  We flew several miles north of the airport and performed many maneuvers required to pass the test. There was a point where the instructor had me climb several thousand feet.  At that point, he put a hood (like a large visor that obscures a pilot’s ability to see anything but the instruments in the airplane) on my head. Then, he pulled the yoke back sharply resulting in a steep climb that all too quickly stalled the plane.  Once the air stopped going over the wings, the torque of the engine caused the plane to go into a rapid spin.  We went around and around, bodies leaning to one side due to the centrifugal force.  This was a disorienting maneuver to say the least.  The flight examiner eventually stopped the spin and took the hood off of my head.  It was then that he said, “Get me back to the airport.”  My head was still spinning and my typically accurate internal compass was not working.  The plane was flying straight and level, but my disoriented senses said we were diving and turning.  At that point, my training kicked in and I heard the words of my flight instructors in my head, “Trust your instruments.”  I ignored my disoriented senses, examined the instruments, and trusted the needles and numbers to get me back to the airport. 

Occasionally, there are disorientating events in our lives.  At these times, we have to trust our instruments to get to our destination safely.  Our shared values are the most powerful “instruments” we have to help us reach our destination and to ensure a dignified journey.  If there are moments this week when you are feeling a little disoriented, please take the time to revisit and recommit to our shared values.