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On the Other Side of the Cloud

April 16th, 2010

Patricia and I flew to the US on Wednesday just before the cloud of volcanic ash erupted and stopped all flights across the north Atlantic. So here we are in Philadelphia, on the other side of the cloud, with many trans-Atlantic air travellers unable to get to where they want to be. We are quite content to enjoy the beautiful spring weather in Pennsylvania, and we will see how things develop by the time we are due to return next week. Maybe we will have to stay longer? For others, to be on the wrong side of the cloud will be very disruptive.

I had lunch yesterday with Dr Paul Wells, who teaches at the Reformed Seminary in Aix-en-Provence in France, and he left us to get an Air France flight to Toronto and then to Paris. The Paris flight out of Toronto was cancelled, but I believe Paul made it safely across the Atlantic on an Air India flight to Barcelona.

The last time trans-Atlantic air travel was so disrupted was immediately following the 9/11 attacks. On that occasion, Patricia and our eldest daughter had just crossed the Atlantic on the evening of the 10th September and I was in Philadelphia with our younger daughter. But all flights were restored within a week and Patricia and I were reunited on schedule.

This disruption seems strangely apocalyptic. One (relatively small) volcanic event has a massive impact on human activity and travel. It is another reminder that in spite of our successes and achievements in many areas of life, we are still quite powerless in face of the natural phenomena in the earth. I think the biblical writers made that point many centuries ago.

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