Yesterday I was supposed to fly 1 hour and 45 minutes from central Illinois to Atlanta and then, after an hour layover, I was supposed to fly from Atlanta to JFK in time to meet friends for dinner. Then, one of my friends was supposed to drive me up to New Haven. It sounded like an easy, no-fail plan.
I got to the airport at 5 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight. That flight kept getting delayed and then it was cancelled, due to fog in Atlanta. Then it started snowing in Illinois. Hard.
Then an airport employee announced that the flight was cancelled, and asked us to get in line to rebook our itineraries.
The family in front of me was a mom, dad, and 2-year-old son who were going to Turks and Caicos. Another couple was going to Costa Rica for their 40th anniversary. In comparison to them, my flight mishap was nothing.
I waited in line. I couldn’t rebook online because the server was down. I tried calling their #1-800 number, and ended up waiting on the phone for an hour. Finally, it was my turn in line. I approached the counter and the two airport employees who helped rebook my ticket were funny. And kind. And helpful. And knowledgable. And one of them walked around the terminal after he’d helped rebooked everyone, just to see if we were all doing okay.
He ordered us breakfast. And then, when we were further delayed, he ordered us lunch.
We ended up being nearly 9 hours delayed. And the whole time, my fellow passengers were kind and gracious. And the airline employees were, too.
And as I watched everyone be the best version of themselves, and watched the airline employees and passengers be gentle with each other and make the best out of an unfortunate situation, I realized that we are the world. We create the atmosphere that we live in.
It is so easy to look across the lines we draw between political parties and theological disparities and ideologies and point fingers. We stand on our side of the line and blame “them” for everything that’s wrong in our culture and in our country and we wait for “them” to respond and change and behave better.
But what I realized yesterday is that our world is made up of what WE do. What I do. The choices I make moment by moment, the times I choose to be gentle or rude, the words I speak out of frustration or self control…these are the choices that make the world what it is.
In our weak moments, we are everything that is wrong with the world.
And when we surrender to grace, when we choose to be kind like the airline employees and passengers were yesterday, we can be everything that makes the world kind, better and whole.
We can be everything that’s right with the world in which we live.