Whose Packing Your Parachute?

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Whose Packing Your Parachute?

/ Post by Codi Lindsey

by Julie Gentz

We all have to pull the cord and deploy our parachute sometimes to help us make safe landings when we face struggles and trials in life. When that moment comes, it’s important to have people in our lives that “pack our parachute” — the people who help us make it through tough times in so many unsung ways. Life is busy and we don’t often stop to think about who those people are or the little things they do for us that make a big difference. When we are grieving, these people and the light that they shine on the dark spots in our lives, are even more important. Stop for a minute and ask yourself, “Who in my life are the people that pack my parachute?” And then ponder how the little things they do and say help you make “safe landings” in the treacherous landscape of grief. While you’re doing that, I’d like to share a true story about Charles Plumb entitled, “Your Parachute.”

Charles Plumb, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from the experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at an other table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.

Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said “Good morning. How are you?” or anything, because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.”

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t even know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute? Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day.”

Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory — he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all of these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say :hello”, “please”, or “thank you”, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason.

As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachute.


There are angels all around us 
     that help us through each day.
They bring us joy and  lift us up.
     They help us find our way.

The little things they do for us,
     the caring that they show,
might very well be helping us 
     in ways we do not know.

A loving hug, a cheery smile,
     a soft and gentle touch.
All of these are healing things
     that mean so very much.

Kindness really is a gift
     we can practice every day.
For the love we hold within our heart
      is always best when its given away.
Julieanne Gentz
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