Last year I was traveling home from a business trip in California. After my fourth flight in two days I was getting a little fatigued. And that’s when it happened. I realized that I was becoming a “cranky old man”.
Let me explain – I was stuck in the middle seat of a completely full flight. The people behind me had four or five kids (seemed like a dozen). I say that I love kids but it turns out that I think I really only love my kids and grandkids; most others are just examples of someone’s bad parenting. And don’t even get me started on the NAMES. Brody or Brady and his baby sister Ecstasy or Fantasy were especially delightful. When Brody/Brady wasn’t kicking my seat he was annoying most of the rest of the passengers on Flight 1376. And the parents were idiots. This was the running commentary: “Brody don’t run down the aisle!” “Brody stop hitting your sister!” “Ecstasy, don’t cry – Brody didn’t mean to hurt you.” “Brody, it’s not nice to use those words!” Oh, I had a few words for Brody. Did I mention we were on a flight? I get busted by the flight attendant because I didn’t turn my cell phone off soon enough and darling little Brody is literally running through the airplane!
To top it off the lady across the aisle gets up out of her seat no less than ten times on a four hour flight (crazy), the guy next to me has a bloody nose (gross) and little baby Ecstasy pukes (even grosser). Gee whiz!
So at first I felt justified in my “crankiness”. In fact I felt righteous. How dare all of these nitwits destroy the end of a perfectly lousy day? If I ran the world (or airlines) they all would be denied permanent flying privileges! Especially the little puker.
Then I started thinking about how my wife tells me that at times I can be intolerant. Well, if she were on this flight she’d understand how wrong she is. And I also remembered her admonishing me during a similar situation with ill behaved children (and I maybe lost my cool). She said that all kids (and adults, too) have bad days and that the last thing the poor parents needed was some “cranky old man” giving them the “stink-eye”. Besides, she said, “Your granddaughters aren’t always perfect either”. That’s when I realized that menopause has affected her mentally. Of course our granddaughters are ALWAYS PERFECT, but that’s another subject.
So I started praying on Flight 1376. At first I prayed that Brady/Brody would stop kicking the back of my seat. I prayed that ‘bloody nose guy’ would get up and deal with it in the bathroom. I prayed that the crazy lady across the aisle would sit down and keep still for a while.
Then the Holy Spirit took over and my prayers changed: I prayed for the parents of Brody and the rest of the troop, that they could relax and not be too stressed and that they could show the rest of us what a loving family really looked like. I prayed for the restless lady across the aisle – I wondered if she was dealing with a serious life issue or on her way to or from some tragic or painful event. I prayed for the man with the bloody nose – that his discomfort and embarrassment would be eased. And the more I prayed the more I felt at peace. And the more I prayed the more I saw Christ in each of my fellow passengers.
By the time the plane landed I didn’t feel like a “cranky old man” anymore. I thought of the Beatitudes – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I’m definitely poor in spirit and that night God treated me to a little glimpse of heaven on Flight 1376. I just needed to refocus in order to see it.