Published on April 6, 2021

Chasing the Creator

Flying on a jet plane, looking down at God’s creation

By Shirley Prihoda
The Bulletin

In seven days, I had traveled 4,252 miles. I flew the “Friendly Skies” of one of the major airlines, which shall remain anonymous for many reasons.

The chief reason being they have better lawyers. Fortunately for me, the entire trip to San Francisco was friendly. I wasn’t asked to give up my seat, or forcibly removed; however, the images splashing on every news channel did cross my mind!

Just to be on the safe side, as I boarded the plane, I scanned every seat as I walked to the back. I didn’t see any priests or clerical collars; therefore, mentally I formed a plan in the event of an emergency that I may be needed to administer Last Rights or something equally religious.

I was counting on the fact that should Last Rights be needed, the chaos may obscure the fact that I am a woman preacher and not Catholic. I have seen enough Bing Crosby movies in my lifetime and felt certain I could wing it if the need arose. I did have a back-up plan in case that one didn’t work.

I am also a card-carrying certified counselor, so clutching my purse tightly to my chest, I was ready to show that card at a moment’s notice. My last and final ace in the hole was that I am a paramedic. Of course, I would leave out the part that my certification expired 10 years ago since some things are on a “need-to- know” basis.

From San Francisco, I caught a hopper flight over the mountains to Redmond, Oregon. As we were crossing the mountains, the sun was setting below the clouds, and the view from my window was simply breath-taking. The sky was shrouded in a tangerine haze and looked as if the whole earth was ablaze. It was a beautifully moving sight that momentarily took my mind off the man sitting beside me, who had pumped his foot up and down for the last hour as if he alone was providing the pedal-power keeping the plane in the air. He may just have desperately needed the restroom but was too concerned he couldn’t find his way back to his seat. Some things are hard to tell, even for a card-carrying, expired paramedic, woman preacher.

I relished the distraction outside of the window. In that place of beauty, and far removed from the annoying foot pumper, I remembered the scripture in Isaiah 66:1, “Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool.” For that special moment in time, both the window and my heart were filled with the wonder of Him. The One who was, and is to come.

The escape from the foot pumper was not the only amazing thing that happened on that flight. The other was the total calm I felt during turbulence and the repeating alarms of “fasten your seatbelt.” To fully appreciate this, you would have had to endure the unfortunate experience of being seated next to me during previous flights.

Then, you would know for certain this calm was indeed a strange phenomenal. My usual white-knuckle grip on anything near me would have been the first giveaway, followed by my rapid breathing and unblinking eyes. Not the sweet kind of eyes, but the ones referred to as deer in the headlights or an annoyed raccoon!
Let me be totally frank here - the foot pumper would have been a welcomed alternative. I’m still processing the calm and after due consideration have arrived at two possibilities: 1. I’ve reached a new level of trust in the Lord, or 2. I’ve lived such a long time that I’m O.K. with going to my forever home. Probably both.

Once back in Brenham, a day of sleeping was welcomed before loading the car for a trip to Brazoria to see my sister. Since I was the pilot and the flight attendant this time, I probably wouldn’t need the aces I was ready to throw down on the flight, but one never knows.

I love to bake bread and made it for years the old-fashioned way, but buy a KitchenAid.

Buttermilk Bread
5½ Cups All-purpose Flour
¼ Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Salt
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
2 Packages Active Dry Yeast
1½ Cups Buttermilk
½ Cup Water
½ Cup Butter
2 Tablespoon Butter, melted

Grease two loaf pans. Measuring the flour is critical; therefore, lightly spoon the flour and level off. In the mixing bowl, combine two cups of the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and yeast. Mix with the whisk attachment. In a small saucepan, combine the buttermilk, water and ½ cup butter. Heat until it reaches 120° to 130° on the thermometer. The mixture will look curdled.

Place the beater attachment onto the KitchenAid and slowly add the warmed buttermilk mixture to the dry mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes. Change the beater attachment for the dough hook and begin adding the remaining flour one cup at a time. Mix well after each addition. Knead with the dough hook for 8-10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside, turning to coat the entire surface. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and allow to rise until doubled. Punch the dough down and turn onto a floured work surface.

Cut into two pieces. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each piece into a long rectangle. Keep the short side about 7 inches wide. Beginning with the short side, roll the dough tightly in jellyroll fashion. Place into the loaf pans seam side down. Cover and let rise until double.

Bake at 350° until golden brown on top, usually 30-40 minutes. Brush the tops with the melted butter. Remove immediately to a wire rack to cool.

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)