To rendezvous in formation flying, the lead plane carves a continuous shallow curve in the sky, a tiny moving target for the rendezvous-er, who by modulating a straighter line, narrows the separation, from mile (say), to kilometer, to football field, to . . . whoa . . . feet. In the final seconds, your tiny target grows large – rapidly – and after some quick adjustments, though you and your comrade are slicing through the sky at several miles per minute, you are suddenly locked together (nearly), your relative motion zero. Time and space are joined, and you share this insiders' “knowledge,” unknown to earthlings, with quick nods to each other. If all goes well.
But such moments, such bits of “knowledge,” are mere droplets in the spiritual epoxies which bond old comrades. And they're hardly limited to dashing aviators. It may be subliminal, but day laborers picking tomatoes under a hot sun know that glue, as do fire fighters, recruits in any enterprise you might name, teachers, classmates, Caraluzzi cashiers and stock persons, you name them. Do they all get along? No matter; their tasks, their goals, the very scents they inhale in aisles of tomato plants or grocery shelves, form such a common “knowledge”; they're stuck with each other, comrades for all that. Spiritual, powerful, marvelous, no? Turn the coin and ask any young ISIS fighter, or one of our Special Forces guys. Each will shout, “Yes!” How terribly strong is that bond with them all. That little worm boring through every sweet apple of comradeship was a paradox I'd never considered.
Until last Wednesday's wonderful meeting with John, my old squadron mate. His two thousand mile arced trajectory from San Diego had connected with my relatively straight line from Sandy Hook to The City, and a perfect rendezvous on East 55th Street. Time and space joined, and for an evening they were arrested. The four of us, John and I and Glenda and Patty, John's wife and perforce my friend of sixty years, laughed, frowned, chatted, empathized, and patched in many gaps between Christmas card postings; we guys told hair raising tales of Naval aviation; we shared family pictures; and when John asked me to pray for his beautiful granddaughter Sterling Marie, at grips with a brain tumor, I wept. The evening skipped along. Then it ended. Outside John and Patty's rooms we swapped heartfelt hugs and said goodbye. Spontaneously we two comrades bear hugged, our first hug of any degree (Ltjg's hugging?) and, I'm sure we both realized, most likely our last.
That special love, I thought, must permeate the sweet air of our longed for kingdom. Why not? Why couldn't its terrible poison of exclusiveness be transmuted to a universal affection for our beautiful planet and for each other? We plead for such a day in our dearest prayer, so look and look again into that far blue sky. Can you see that tiny moving target? Is that our Comrade? Let us fly, Partner, until space and time are joined.