Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

He's Flying the Plane

Jackie K. Cooper

Religion has always been a big part of my life. I was raised Baptist and my family went to church just about every time the doors opened. I was saved and baptized when I was twelve, but I didn't find true faith until I was fourteen. That is when my mother died; that is when I found God.

Over the years I have been better at religion sometimes and sometimes not, but my faith has never wavered. When I first went off to college I remember thinking, now I don't have to go to church. For a month or two I didn't. I just slept in on Sunday morning. Then I began to miss it, and after a while I really missed it. I like the way going to church makes me feel and I like the people I meet in church. So I started back up again with my attendance. During that time I was neglectful of my religion but I never lost my faith.

After I got married and had children I was even more regular in my attendance at church. I had now become Methodist and I really liked the church we had picked. Plus I thought it was important that my children be raised in the church. You learn a lot of good lessons for life there.

Lately I have been thinking more and more about my faith. I don't talk about it a lot, but it is there. As a rule I don't debate politics and religion so my friends and I don't have deep discussions about those subjects. I think a lot of people are like that.

A friend of mine asked me one time why I didn't talk about religion much. I didn't have a good answer. I guess it is because I don't have a strong fixation on religion. I see flaws in all the Christian branches. Still I have to have faith. It is what keeps me going.

God is the center of my faith. Having Him in charge of my life helps keep me sane. I also cling to the concept of an afterlife. If this is all there is then what has been the point! Plus I want to be reunited with those who have died before me.

What got me to thinking about all this is a story my Sunday School teacher told this week (yes, I do go to Sunday School even though that makes me sound like I am ten). The story went like this. There was an airplane flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta. Halfway across the country the plane hit turbulence. The plane rocked and shook and swayed up and down. It seemed to go on forever.

All of the passengers were scared silly except for one little girl. She was about eight and she sat in her seat and colored in a coloring book while all this was going on. She never cried, she never asked anyone for reassurance, she just sat calmly throughout the turmoil. The man across the aisle from her was stunned by her composure.

When the storm was over and things had calmed down the man asked the little girl why she hadn't been afraid during the ruckus that had been part of their trip. The little girl looked him in the eye and said, "My daddy is the pilot and he's flying this plane. He's taking us home."

That basically sums up my faith. It doesn't get any simpler than that.


Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it are contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.

Jackie's first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway Home was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004.

Cooper's fourth book, released in 2006, is The Bookbinder.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012