Two jets inscribe Christmas blessing in Cochrane's sky

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 21, 2005

A serendipitous cross was created in the sky over Cochrane by two jets passing in the fading daylight of Dec. 14. Photo by Warren Harbeck.


On Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 14, I experienced a Christmas blessing unlike anything I've ever experienced before. It was not just for me, however. The blessing was blazoned across the sky for everyone in our part of the Bow valley to enjoy.

It was getting on in the afternoon, well past time for my usual coffee break. I set aside a project I was working on, hopped in the car and five minutes later arrived at Cochrane's Java Jamboree. Mug of dark roast in hand, I made my way around the tables, touching base with several of our delightful coffee companions.

Meanwhile, a jet plane was taking off from the Edmonton International Airport, heading south toward warmer climes – perhaps Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Las Vegas or Los Angeles. The pilot reached cruising altitude, setting a course that would take the plane high over Cochrane.

At the same time, a westbound jet – probably en route from Toronto to Vancouver – was also at cruising altitude and would soon pass high over Cochrane.

I suspect that the two pilots didn't have a clue about the angelic mission they were soon to fulfill.

The sun was just setting when I finished my coffee and prepared to head home.

Back in the air, the southbound jet had passed over the lands of the Stoney First Nation west of Cochrane and was well on its way above the hills and mountains in Kananaskis Country. Its long white contrail marked its path across the sky.

The westbound jet had just passed south of Cochrane and would soon be over Canmore and Banff. It, too, was sporting a white contrail.

As I drove west along Glenbow Dr, the two sets of contrails high in the southwest caught my attention. Two jets had just crossed each other's paths at right angles. The especially brilliant-white ribbons made an awesome sight against the darkening sky as they intersected and became one.

I hurried the rest of the way home, grabbed my camera, and ran back outside.

The contrails were just starting to disperse when I took their photograph right after sunset that afternoon, but their shape and symmetry were unmistakable. At home, I put my experience into verse to accompany the photograph I had just taken.

At the urging of many around town who have seen that photo, I'd like to share it and the verse I wrote as my Christmas greeting to all my coffee companions near and far:

Two jets crossed each other's path
in the sunset sky
southwest of Cochrane.
It was as though they had
a special message for us:
"Peace on earth
through the Cross of Him
who was born on Christmas Day."


© 2005 Warren Harbeck

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