This post isn't the next one I intended, but Remembrance Day this weekend reminded me of something that happened to me a recently that I thought I'd share with you. Two Sundays ago my two eldest children and I spent the day gliding from my local flying club just outside Selby. It was a fantastic day - blue skies and sunshine.
In the heat of summer you can just keep riding the thermals up to a good altitude and spend as long as you want in the air from one tow... depending on the capacity of your bladder of course. But this time of year rising air isn't so easy to find. You get whatever warm air you can by flying over built up areas and watching for any new clouds forming. But today, on a crystal clear, sunny but cool November morning our fly time is down to about half an hour per tow.
From 2500 feet you could see most of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire - the pristine stonework of York Minster to the North, the twin towers of the Humber Bridge to the East and the City of Leeds to the West. And down below the tiny airfield, very much overgrown as it had really been maintained since it was used for flying Halifax bombers during the Second World War. It's sometimes difficult to take in that 324 young pilots who took off from this little airfield as we had just done, never returned. I sometimes wonder what they felt as they taxied onto the runway knowing that the mortality rate was greater than 70%.
Gliding fatalities are rare (John, sat behind my son Ashley in the glider on the right, has flown over 10,500 hours from here and never seen an accident) but it's easy for a novice to feel small and vulnerable up here alone in this tiny cockpit. You fly with a parachute but one of the first things I was taught is that if you have to open the cockpit and bail out, then make sure you scream "AHH!" ... it's an acronym for 'Arse, Head, Hospital'... and reminds you that this is the order you want to follow - 'arse first' because often the parachute hasn't had time to open properly before you hit the ground!
You could be excused for thinking that sat at the controls of a glider having just released the rope from the tow plane in front is not a good time to ponder these things, but that is the beauty of gliding..... it is so simple and so pure that providing you are sensible and alert, you actually do have time to sit back and take things in.... and from an incredible vantage point too. With a little experience you can let the warm air currents and the prevailing wind do most of the flying for you.
What I love about both gliding and hot air ballooning (apart from the fact they are amazing fun) is that it helps me gain perspective. From the quiet of a glider cockpit or the basket of a balloon you can watch life carrying on below you without any need to get caught up in it. For me, it serves as a physical metaphor for 'stepping back' from life to clarify what is valuable to me and what is not. But most of all, the way they move through the sky unassisted reminds me of what is real.... as Adyashanti said, "Love moves without an agenda. It just moves because that is it's nature - to move"
From this height you can't make out faces but you can see people waving, and if you watch carefully as the folks below go about their business, you can start to see beyond appearances to what it is that's really going on. You can become aware of our motivation at a deeper, more fundamental level. You can start to recognise that each of us in our own way seeks for a place of safety and happiness in our lives that is unaffected by the shifting sands of time, somewhere solid and safe we can call Home. We may be totally misguided in our approach but every one of us, the terrorist and the priest included, is just trying to find a way to be happy. And so it's possible to reduce the motivation behind all our behaviour down to just this one thing - a call for love. When I am able to see things from this perspective I know that there is absolutely no-one to judge and nothing to forgive.
But the sad fact is, we spend our lives like Lemmings chasing illusions, looking for something solid and stable in a world where everything changes. 
"Is it possible that we're so conditioned to our daily lives, so conditioned to the way we create our lives, that we buy the idea that we have no control at all? We've been conditioned to believe that the external world is more real than the internal world. This new model of science says just the opposite. It says what's happening within us will create what's happening outside of us." ..... Dr. Joseph Dispenza
As Mark Twain once said, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect", but so rarely do we take the quiet time to consider our plight and whether there may be a better way. And those that do usually end up on some 'spiritual journey' seeking happiness, bliss or some other 'higher state'.... but all states no matter how 'high', are still subject to change.
'What never changes' is recognisable in any moment that we are willing to let our defences drop and feel the connection and Oneness that exists between us. We don't need a religion, a philosophy or a spiritual journey to experience this, we can experience it right now - you as you're reading this, me as I am typing this paragraph. How can that be possible you when I am writing this before you read it? Because they are both happening in the present moment... in the only time there really is.
The one thing that is totally dependable and infintely loving, sustaining and intelligent is this ground of Consciousness that we all are a part of.... the Presence that is aware of our changing thoughts and everything we seem to see changing 'outside'. Whilst it is within our power to overlook or deny this, it is always there; and although we rarely recognise it, it is forever moving us towards a point of stillness in our life where we do remember.
Instead of trying to get our heads around these ideas we can experience this directly, without thought. If You and I, just for an instant, entertain the possibility that maybe our identity resides in consciousness rather than a physical body, and then both of us relax into the feeling of this present moment, it can be the easiest thing in the world for 'both' of us to feel our one Presence..... the one thing that never changes, if that is our intent.
Want to try it? Let's have a go and see.
I have digressed. (you can tell this is a post about gliding - I've drifted miles away from where I was. ;-))
As soon as each of us landed it was all-hands-on pulling the gliders around ready for the next tow up.... as we shared mugs of tea, bacon butties and 'the crack' (to my U.S. friends that's 'crack' as in 'light hearted banter', not drugs). At the end of the day we drove back down the runway to where you leave the field, picking our way through the potholes. As I glanced out of my open window my mind momentarily drifted away from the happy conversation in our car to the skies above. A few small cumulus clouds had started to form but apart from that, the pale blue and orange vista was just as empty as was when we had first arrived.
In that same moment a profound feeling of well-being washed over me and then completely engulfed me, as I felt a smile in the mind of all those who had ever flown from here since those first flights of the Halifax bombers. I swear to you I felt their Presence more tangible and real than if they were stood in front of me. I struggled to hold back happy tears as I was reminded in that instant that truly no-one ever dies, and not one of us is ever left alone.
Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there." ..... Rumi
 The world of form is made up entirely of temporary things, but what is real must persist. If something 'dies' is 'destroyed' or is 'transformed', it is no longer here is it? So how can it be real? By definition, something real cannot be 'real' one minute and not the next. What is real never changes, but our mind can trick us into not seeing the obvious. We have become so accustomed to these mind tricks that we don't see them as tricks at all, and therefore never stop to question what we think of as reality. The problem is, when we put our store in things that change we suffer. And even if what we value appears to have some semblance of stability, we still fear it might change and so we still suffer.
 If we consider for a moment this thing that we call 'time' we can recognise that both the past and the future are mental constructs. One is a memory, the other a dream... but both are imagined. The only time that anything can be experienced, and therefore exists in reality, is in this present moment. The rest is just imagination - but this imagination clouds what presents itself to us in the present.