I returned from Seattle last Monday. Weekend one of four is tucked away in the books. This leg of the journey has only begun.
After an intense 25 hours of lecture and group time, it was lovely to spend Sunday afternoon with friends being a tourist before boarding a late-night, red-eye flight home.
Feeling claustrophobic in a window seat on a full flight, I was grateful that my cup of Sleepytime Extra tea seemed to be kicking in and that my neck pillow, however awkward looking, offered comforting support. Slipping off my sparkly Toms and on my cozy fleece socks, and covering up with a scarf-blanket, all I needed was music to send me on my way to sleep.
It was a sweet grace to drift off for a few hours before waking to a waning-crescent moon and the big dipper right outside of my window in the clear black sky, so close I could almost touch them. Slumbering people sharing the row prevented me from getting up and walking around. Deep breathing and the moon and stars kept me from panicking.
Sara Groves sang in my ears as tears ran down my face. Tears invite curiosity, and I pondered what resonated so strongly between her words and my heart.
And I pray for a vision and a way I cannot see. It’s too heavy to carry and impossible to leave.
Heaviness. Impossibility. Vision. Change.
Drifting back to sleep, I stayed settled until the descent. Bright flashes of light caught my attention. I wondered if they were lights from the plane.
It was lightning.
I left sunny Seattle and returned to thunderstorms.
Touching down, the pilot’s voice over the speaker informed that lightning prevented the plane from being parked at the gate, since it was unsafe for workers to be out on the tarmac. Until further notice, all flights were grounded, and we were not going anywhere, including off of the plane.
This was a difficult space to inhabit. I was transported to days at the pool or the amusement park, or at a sporting event where timing the lightning was crucial to re-entering the activity. Those minutes between flashes felt like an eternity. There was nowhere to go.
When the timing was right, I exited the plane, uncertain of what would be waiting inside. Would flights be cancelled? Rescheduled? On time? This time I knew where I was going and walked through the airport with purpose.
My flight was cancelled. Plans were changed. Instead of meeting my son in his classroom later that morning, I would spend the day grounded in the Charlotte airport. Weather is not something that can be controlled.
I struggled with this.
After much wrestling and acceptance, I breathed into the space that was a day at the Charlotte Airport and made my way to the chapel first. Sitting there in the quiet, I tried to hold what had just happened, but so many shoulds weighed down on my shoulders.
Giving myself grace to just be in the space, I practiced silence before re-entering the fray of a busy airport.
Disappointed that I had gate-checked my suitcase with the power cord to my laptop, I found a rocking chair to sit in and grounded my feet. The rocking motion soothed my soul as I watched the sky clear and the sun return.
My flight did not board until 5:30, so I spent time writing and reading and thinking. I got lunch and spent time reading and eating alone until I invited a lovely lady to sit with me when it was apparent that she could not find an open table.
This move was unusual for me, yet opened my heart to a sweet gift. We shared where we were in the moment and in life and found that in spite of the difference in our skin color, there were many similarities in our souls. A new sister was met, friendship was sparked, and numbers exchanged.
I left lunch in humility and awe at the kindness of God in the Charlotte airport. The space felt sacred and sweet. I saw and was seen. I was blessed. I spoke blessing.
The flight to Roanoke was uneventful and the drive home smooth. I was grateful to fall into the arms of my husband and into the comfort of my home.
Here is Sara’s music that met me on the flight. Maybe it will meet you, too. Be blessed, Friends! Thank you for sharing this journey with me.