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Do the 'wave,' connect as wingmen

  • Published
  • By Chap. (Lt. Col.) Mike Gilbert
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing
Walking across camp with your head down, lost in a moment of thought ... All of a sudden, you see someone walking in the distance and you recognize the combination of stride, sunglasses and stylish reflective belt. You lift a hand to wave and are answered back by the same gesture. How do you feel when that happens? I'm guessing your day just got a little better!

I like going for my run in the mornings. I'm not much of a real runner, but I work at it. When I am out running my route, other runners will give a wave as they go the other way. I've noticed a few different styles of the wave. There is the subtle "welcome to the runner's club" wave, the "hang in there you can make it" wave, and the "I'm not a runner either" wave. The wave is proof that we have found a common ground no matter what uniform either of us is wearing. The purpose of the wave seems to be twofold: recognizing another person with common interests and encouraging one another -- doing the wave connects and encourages.

Taking time for a spiritual moment is a lot like doing the wave. We read something challenging, experience an awesome moment, or meet someone who causes us to see a bigger picture of life, and we sense a connection and feel encouraged. Something in those events lifts its hand to us and, if we have eyes to see, we lift our hand in return. We experience a connection beyond what we can explain. That spiritual connection goes beyond the uniform of our particular faith background, and as it is written "deep calls to deep."

The longer I'm here, the more I notice the waves are becoming more frequent. Uniforms and sunglasses are turning into people and people are turning into friends. It feels like walking around a small town where everyone knows everybody. The bond that occurs during a deployment is strong. Doing the wave seems to be a natural reflection of that bond. As we learn to experience the spirituality all around us, the frequency of the waves increase also.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, "Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes - The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."

As Airmen, we are called to be wingmen. There is an expectation for each of us to connect and encourage each other. We are stronger for taking a moment and doing the wave; it makes a difference on both ends.

As human beings, we are called to be spiritual.

Emily Bronte reminds us, "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same." All around us is a spirituality that waits for us to connect and to be encouraged.

If you find yourself walking around with your head down, take a moment ... look around, lift a hand and do the wave! It makes a difference.