I have always been one of those people who is really into routines when she flies. I don’t like to get to the airport more than an hour early (living on the edge, you know). I always agonize over whether or not to buy my favorite pre-flight snack (sour patch watermelons, duh). I also consistently scour the gate’s waiting-area, desperately trying to find an electrical outlet . . . I’ll stop at nothing, which usually means that I sit on the floor of any number of airport hallways.
What tends to change, though, is what happens once I actually get on the airplane. In a lot of ways, an airplane serve as a great equalizer – everyone on that plane is trying to get to the best seat, crossing his fingers that the air conditioning won’t be blowing too hard. I would even venture a guess that everyone secretly tries to ask the flight attendant to pass more than one measely bag of pretzels. Just me? Okay. Anyways.
As I stepped onto my second of two flights this past weekend (I was in Virginia for the wedding of two dear friends, it was awesome, tears were shed, etc), I anxiously scanned the rows to see where I would be sitting. I’m usually one of those people who loves to capitalize on airplane rides and use them as an opportunity to make new friends. But . . . it was late. And I hate the Atlanta airport. And I was annoyed that there wasn’t a Dairy Queen in said airport. And my ears were still ringing/feet were still hurting from dancing the night away the night before ( Mary, you know). Basically, I had every excuse in the book to avoid being a conversationalist with my fellow passengers on the airplane.
I bet you can see where this is going . . . As I slowed my roll and got to my seat, I looked down and saw that my seat was currently occupied with a (big!) crossstitch project and an elderly couple sitting in the same row. We exchanged pleasantries, I made a joke about sharing their bananas with them (weird, so weird), and my heart softened a little bit. It softened enough to ask this sweet couple their names, learn about the Reservation that they lived and worked on for 25 years, and discovered that they were celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary. (I also got the nearest rows to hoot and holler for them).
There I was on the airplane, experiencing a chance encounter with two people I will probably never see again: I had nothing to lose. So I thanked them for their witness to marriage and explained how much hope it gives me. As we continued chatting, I felt the momentum moving as I started to tell them about what I’m doing – this new apostolate, the move to St. Louis, etc. I was able to clearly and objectively tell these two with such confidence what God has done in my life.
As we said our goodbyes (complete with a few bad Lauren Jokes) and chuckled about the people in front of us who had a heck of a time getting their bags out of the overhead bin (you know the types . . .), I once again thanked them for the conversation and assured them of my prayers. I disembarked the plane tired, but renewed.
I was renewed in the knowledge that no matter where we come from or where we are going, we all have a story to tell. I was renewed in the assurance that the Lord is using this new apostolate to get people talking, and I was renewed in the understanding that I have nothing to lose–He’s already given me everything. In every encounter, every airplane ride, every phone call, there is an opportunity to create an intentional encounter. The joy that I felt as I left that airplane (and tweeted about it, of course) was the joy of the knowledge that although some things are unexpected, nothing is accidental.