It was still dark when we left for the airport before 4am. “It’s blog Tuesday,” my husband reminded me, knowing of my desire to be faithful to post each Tuesday. “I’m not sure how it’s going to happen today,” I replied feeling a bit discouraged.
What do you write when you’ve just gone through some of the toughest days of your life? “I’m sure something will come to me,” I responded as he dropped me off. I knew the brief three hours of sleep I had last night isn’t the best way to sit down at the keyboard nor is it great for creativity. Since my dad passed away last Friday, my thoughts have gone from utterly scattered to feeling completely numb. Dad was an amazing man of faith, an encourager, a people lifter, a leader, and my hero.
Traveling ahead of my husband and family today, I wondered where I could possibly find inspiration for a blog when my heart is so torn. Little did I know, I was about to experience a wonderful reminder that God is faithful. Sometimes He places inspiration right on our path when we least expect it and how we least expect it.
Once at the airport, I stepped up to my gate with plenty of time to spare. I knew my ticket was standby but I wanted to get home. My heart broke for home. As the crowd grew in the gate, my heart sank. I knew my chances for making the flight were shrinking with each new passenger that joined me in the waiting area. And, if hoping for a standby seat wasn’t bad enough, I was six on the list. Patiently, ok impatiently I waited. When the last passenger with a seat stepped aboard, just five seats remained. Everyone in the gate got a seat, except for me.
My heart sank a bit more as I fought back the tears waiting for the gate attendant to find an alternative flight. I thought back to the eulogy I wrote just yesterday for dad and how he always found joy on his journey. Dad, I’m having a hard time finding joy in this. I thought.
“There’s a flight at 7am,” the attendant said. It looks like it will probably be full, but you can wait and try. There are no other standby passengers so your chances could be good. Optimistically I thought God knows I need to get home. I’ll wait. The two hours went quickly, but soon a sense of deja vu settled in. The crowd grew, my chances slimmed, the flight filled. Discouraged, the attendant said the only chance I would have would be to head down to Boston and try to catch a flight out of Logan. Typically that trip would only take an hour, but it was now the morning rush. The complications of my journey continued.
When I finally reached the gate, I explained that it had already been a day. I shared that my dad had always found joy but that I wasn’t finding any today. The gate attendant and the waiting pilot encouraged me; their flight had lots of space. If their compassion ended at the gate, I would have been ok with that. But, once onboard, the pilot told the flight attendant of my challenges. She offered me a complimentary glass of wine while they looked up flight information to try to gain me a connecting flight sooner than the one I now had. Knowing the connection would be tight; she moved my seat up to the first row behind first class in an aisle seat to give me the best chance. She moved my roller bag finding a space just big enough so that it too would be closer to the front. On a napkin she wrote everything I needed to know to find the gate which was on the far side of the terminal and, she gave me a pile of snacks in case I made the flight, knowing that would mean I’d miss lunch.
Despite running through the airport, I didn’t make that earlier connection. Sitting at the gate for my eventual connecting flight, I was impacted by the kindness I had just received. Neither the pilot nor the flight attendant could change the challenges I’ve faced. They couldn’t take away the sorrow for my loss, they couldn’t ensure a better connection, nor could they change the trials I had getting to this flight. But, what they could do was to be compassionate and do what they could within their abilities to make my day a little bit better. They cared. They treated me with kindness and respect. And, on a day that felt full of rain clouds, they brought sunshine any way they could.
Every day we all pass people who need sunshine. We’re not always called to fix their problems or take their challenges away. But, we can do something. We can do what we can and make a difference. It may be the smallest act of kindness, or it may be a bigger sacrifice. Either way, we all have the ability to impact the people around us, to share joy, and to be sunshine. Eight hours ago I sat in an airport several states away discouraged. I didn’t think it was possible to find joy today. Now I’m thankful for a faithful God and for a pilot and a flight attendant that brought it to me in seat 7A.
Have you been blessed by unlikely sunshine on your life’s journey? How did someone else make an impact? Or, have you had the chance to be the difference? What did you do? I’d love to hear from you. It’s in everyday situations we can make a difference!