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Soaring with the angels

I had to trust my tandem instructor literally with my life.

I had to trust my tandem instructor literally with my life.

One thing I have always wanted to do in my life was to skydive. I’ve always wondered why because I’m terrified of flying in airplanes. Now isn’t that crazy?

My opportunity to do this never presented itself until Saturday, Sept. 14, when my longing to soar in the sky finally became a reality. There is one huge difference in my motivation for wanting to experience this. In years past, I was taken by the “thrill,” and “adrenaline rush” of it all — it was a crazy thing to do!

However, my motivation now was to approach this experience through a spiritual lens. It was a huge challenge in the areas I struggle a great deal with in life: fear, trust, surrender, and the need to control. I’m not usually viewed as a fearful person, but I am.

Kneeling with my upper body hanging out of an airplane at 14,000 feet, looking down at Earth, and waiting for the final seconds before I was to be thrust out of the plane pushed every aspect of fear, trust, surrender, and faith to a whole new level. There was no turning back.

The safety of my “normal” prayer space with my lit candles and cup of tea or warm milk was gone. I had to trust my tandem instructor literally with my life. I had to trust my God and angels to guide me every second of the way. The biggest piece … I was NOT in control of anything. I simply had to trust and surrender; and it wasn’t simple.

After the initial plummet, at which we fell at 225 mph and dropped approximately 4,000-6,000 feet in roughly six seconds, we stabilized. The intense wind didn’t allow me to catch my breath right away (that’s all nerves I was told), but that calmed down quickly.

At 6,000 feet we deployed our parachute and from that moment on it became something I’ve never experienced before. There is a silence at that altitude that is indescribable; you must experience it to fully understand it. We will never feel it here, with our feet planted on Earth. It is a silence so powerful you can almost hear the silence. I can’t fully explain that but it is something you do experience.

When you move your head from side to side, you can actually hear the wind and it’s not like when you’re outside on a windy day. It is beyond gentle, it feels lighter than a feather. It’s as if you’re truly being kissed by God and the angels, as well as all those loved ones that have gone before you. You do meet them there; I met them there in a way that was very different.

You realize how little you are in the vast enormity of what God has created. If you are able to be witnessed by those on the ground, they say you are “literally a speck in the sky.” You are not identifiable as a human being.

There is a silence at that altitude that is indescribable; you must experience it to fully understand it.

There is a silence at that altitude that is indescribable; you must experience it to fully understand it.

To witness Earth in such a way, to have a wisp of a cloud pass right by you, to close your eyes and allow yourself to truly be kissed by the silence and wind … Tears do come to my eyes right now remembering those feelings.

I will never view the beauty of Earth or the sky the same again. Now, I’m not saying that in order to experience this one must jump out of an airplane at 14,000 feet but I will say that an experience such as this can impact your life in dramatic ways. I know it is impacting mine in dramatic ways and I have not yet fully processed any of it. My fears, etc., have not been “cured.”

I will continue to struggle, but I do believe that through this experience I will struggle in different ways. I trust this experience will continue to reveal itself to and through me.
My prayer for each of you is that if this opportunity every presents itself to you, take it. Even if it means facing whatever obstacles you may struggle with in life. If it never does,

I hope through me and my prayers for you, you may feel what I experienced. May you be kissed by God who is lighter than a feather, may you feel the love and presence of those who have gone before you — those you miss terribly — and may you soar with your angels to new heights.

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Sister Regina Gallo

Sister Regina Gallo has been a Sister of Providence since 2001. Sister Regina has ministered as a Bereavement counselor in the Elmwood Park, Illinois, area. She is currently studying for an advanced degree.

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