Connections, lost and found

May 1, 2016 -- Living City

Connections, lost and found
A sense of peace, despite external discomforts

As my morning flight from Bologna to London, already two hours late due to earlier London storms, circled the skies for an additional 20 minutes, I realized that it would be nearly impossible to make my connecting flight.

In fact, a short time later I found myself in an interminable line with hundreds of other customers who had also missed their connections. Airline phones were clogged, so even those with cell phone access were stuck. Most people could summon the patience to wait an hour — but as it become two, three and then way past dinner, the atmosphere began to grow tense. I had settled in with a good book but also began to feel anxious as I realized it would be a challenge to get in touch with the friend who was to pick me up from the airport.

Especially when traveling alone, I am not usually talkative with strangers, but at that point I felt a nudge from within to look around, and to remember that the warmth and comfort of God’s presence could be with us, even in this chaotic line.

I remembered I had a package of cookies in my bag, and made the first connection with the hungry college students behind me. That was enough to break the ice with everyone in our part of the line.

As we began trading stories and commiserating, we also realized that we could help each other. The power from my laptop battery was just enough to charge the cell phone of the German couple who needed to call their family. And this couple was happy to watch my stuff as I scouted out a computer terminal from which I could send an email to my friend. A brief greeting in Italian to another young couple was enough to realize that they and two other couples — all on their honeymoon trips — did not understand the announcements that were being made. I translated for them so that they could navigate their options.

After five and a half hours and no alternative flight arrangements yet, we received vouchers for hotel rooms and a meal, and instructions to call the airlines from the hotel. I called from an airport phone and learned that I would need to be back at the airport in just a few hours.

As I curled up on an airport chair to catch a few hours of sleep, I realized that notwithstanding the external discomfort, all of these “connections” with my neighbors in the present moment had filled the evening with an unusual sense of peace. And I did make it home the next day, tired, but with a light heart.

— Amy Uelmen, Bethesda, MD


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