Columnists Mark my words

This month got off to a flying start

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Well, I finally did it. It’s been something on my “to-do” list for more years than I can remember. On Dec. 4, I was able to mark this item “complete.” And, to be honest, I’m still grinning about the experience.

The “it” was riding in a helicopter. I’ve always been fascinated by them. I chose to do it at this time of year for a special reason: to experience the Country Club Plaza lights at night from a totally different perspective. (A bonus was the 20% Black Friday discount.)

Without any effort, I convinced a friend of mine to accompany me on this adventure. About 6:50 p.m., we arrived at Skybound Helicopters, which operates next to the old municipal airport in Kansas City, Missouri. We first watched a safety video and then were escorted outside by two staff members where we watched the helicopter land. 

They then led us board and locked us in. After securing our seat belts and donning headphones with a microphone, we were grinning like two kids in a candy store. (And I have pictures to prove it.)

After the pilot welcomed us, we hovered for a moment and then began our ascent into the crystal-clear night sky.

What followed next was nothing short of magical. Looking below, the city was ablaze with lights; it looked like someone had tossed thousands of glittering diamonds on a black carpet. The flight took us over downtown Kansas City, Missouri, then over to the Plaza. The brightly colored lights there looked like buildings in the ceramic holiday villages that decorate the interior of people’s homes during this season.

We next flew over Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums. Although Kauffman was dark, Arrowhead was filled with light. And all around the stadium was what looked like a giant, pulsing, red snake. The “snake” turned out to be a huge line of car taillights winding through the mile-plus route of over a million lights featured in the Magic of Lights drive-thru experience there.

It was then time to turn around and head back, after another pass over the Plaza and downtown. The half-hour in the air passed so quickly but gave me an experience I’ll never forget.

It’s amazing how viewing something from a different perspective can help you to appreciate it on a whole new level. Often in this busy month of December, I tend to focus only on the hustle and bustle and the seemingly unending tasks that need to be done before Christmas. My stress prevents me from really seeing all the beauty of these days: from the wonderfully decorated homes to the generosity of people caring for the needy to the joy of hearing from friends through Christmas cards.

My helicopter adventure confirmed for me a slice of wisdom that comes from getting older. It’s not the “things” that we give and receive in these days that are most important, as those things are quickly forgotten.

What truly lasts are the experiences that touch the heart, mind and soul: having family and friends to celebrate with, a Christmas show or concert to attend, or taking a trip or adventure long wished for.

I’m living proof of this: This helicopter ride was definitely the “high point” of December, an unforgettable experience that had me practically dancing on air.

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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