“Lord, teach us to step outside ourselves. Teach us to go out into the streets and manifest your love.”
Recently I took a gilligan-esque journey from Philadelphia to Cincinnati, Ohio. As I raced in to make my evening flight, I saw a man sleeping on the floor of the corridor before the security checkpoint. It wasn’t even 7pm and I found my pity mixed with a little bit of judgment on what the man’s story probably was and how he arrived on that floor. Ok, a lot of judgment. I sprinted to my gate just in time to see that my two-hour flight was delayed 15 minutes, then 30, then 60, then three hours. After weighing the possibility of driving through the night, I decided (or my wife told me) that the best course of action would be to wait for the flight and arrive around 1:30am. When I arrived, it was like the rapture had happened. Other than my fellow, bleary-eyed, puddle jumper passengers, it was a ghost town. I walked what seemed like a mile to the rental car center. Closed. I fired up my Uber app, no cars available at this hour. I called the five, supposed “24/7” taxi services in the area, they may need to check their advertising. It was frigid outside and I found a little bit of warmth in the employee shuttle waiting zone. Now approaching 3am, I began to realize I might be sleeping in this remote corridor of the airport. As I slid my back down against the wall and dug through my bag to see if I had remembered a winter hat, I couldn’t believe how quickly my circumstances had changed and how frustrated and frankly a little afraid I was of the situation I was in at that moment. As I closed my eyes, I heard a voice say, “Did you leave a message looking for a taxi?” One of the services had heard my plea and a driver had arrived. “I wasn’t sure if you were who I was looking for,” he said. “At first I thought you were homeless.”
As the taxi driver took me to my hotel, I was surprisingly awake and thinking about how quickly I can write someone else’s story in my own head – not in an inspiring, John Grisham sort of way. How fast do I assume what led to another’s choices or mistakes? How ready am I to project the emotions someone has or the intention behind their actions? It may make for great literature, but boy does it make for a lousy Christian. Why wouldn’t I believe that the person who I saw at the Philadelphia airport felt the same fear, loneliness, frustration, or fatigue I felt in Cincinnati? Perhaps imagining someone else’s plight or if possible, learning about someone else’s challenge before writing that story, might help me keep perspective, demonstrate gratitude, and grow in charity. As we enter into this holiest of weeks, let’s reflect on how quickly life can change for any of us and yet how the love of Christ endures through it all. Prayers that we fully place ourselves in the Lord’s Paschal Mystery this week.