Immersed In Life

Ben H. Swett
Upper Heyford RAFB, UK
3 April 1964

As soon as I got off alert, I went to the RAF liaison office for suggestions as to how to get to Germany to visit my brother who had recently been stationed there with the U. S. Army.

The liaison officer popped smartly to his feet as I walked into his office, gave me one of those side-wheeling RAF salutes, and asked, "How may I help you, Sir?"

I returned his salute. "At ease, Leftenant. I'm just here to ask how one might go about hitching a ride to Frankfurt, Germany, as soon as possible."

He glanced at his watch. "Sir, I'd say that person should be standing outside this very door, kit in hand, in less than twenty minutes. Catch a lorry to Mildenhall, Medivac flight to Frankfurt. Should be there in time for lunch." He grinned.

I was thoroughly pleased with this sharp young officer and his typically RAF way of rendering military courtesies with a smile and a twinkle in his eye that said, "We both know this is a game, but we play it smartly anyway." I thanked him; we exchanged salutes, and I headed out the door to get my suitcase, still pleased--both with him and the information he provided.

As I stepped down from the porch, I looked around--and stopped. All I could see was an utterly beautiful haze of golden light, all around me and above me. Then I noticed the grass in front of my feet, a few bushes to my left, and the vague silhouettes of tree-branches behind the bushes, but everything else was hidden in the glowing haze.

And suddenly, I realized that everything around me was alive ... the grass, the bushes, the trees, the birds singing and moving in the bushes, the air and the mist and the golden light ... all were alive, all were ... life. I was immersed in a glowing sea of life. It filled me, and flowed through me, as it filled and flowed through every other living thing. I just stood there and relished being part of it.

After a moment, the logical part of my mind switched on, and I recognized the source of this light was the sun, shining down on top of a layer of fog. The mystic moment passed, but a small fraction of the feeling of being immersed in life has remained, linked to the memory of that moment. I have relished it many times.

Yes, I did catch the lorry to Mildenhall, and the flight to Frankfurt. And I did get there in time for lunch. I thoroughly enjoyed my surprise visit with my brother and his family. But, as they say, that is another story.