Travel Hassles Make Coming Home A Real Blessing
“You can call this number in the morning to arrange a return flight to Evansville.”
All 42 of us stood there with dumfounded looks on our faces. Here we were at a closed Indianapolis International at 2 a.m. – stranded by American Airlines, which sent its IND ground crew home despite the fact that we had been diverted there for refueling. American apparently didn’t care.
There were families who had just traveled all-night from India, two pro tennis players coming to Evansville for a tournament, and a variety of folks with other backgrounds who now had no idea how or when we would arrive at our final destination. And this is the short story; the actual one includes nearly a dozen failures by the airline. It was a frustrating experience that resulted in my playing chauffer in a rental van, helping stranded passengers get to Evansville the next day.
Yet, an odd thing happened Tuesday morning. Still exhausted following the stressful ordeal, I climbed from bed and into the shower. I got dressed on autopilot, and I’m still not fully aware of how I got outside. But, as I exited the house, a cool, gentle, 70-degree breeze flowed over my skin, atypical for July in southwestern Indiana. I got in my car to make the routine drive to work, when I suddenly noticed beautiful blue skies dappled with fluffy white clouds, and then, remarkably, Norah Jones came on the radio.
I rounded the corner into the Catholic Center, and I slipped into my routine. I knew what had to be done first, what followed, and where the day would head. I knew how I would get home, what I’d do if I had any difficulty, and what needed done when I got home. I was back in the familiar, and it caused the stress of a horrible difficulty to simply melt away.
It dawned on me that one of the greatest blessings of time away is the return home. Don’t misunderstand; job challenges, home projects, car repairs, bills, and all the other difficulties that existed before we departed were still there, but they were knowns, they were familiar. What a great blessing the familiar can be, and it is extremely easy to lose sight of this gift.
I regularly tell people that I hit the “Wife Lottery.” My wife is far too good for me, and anyone who knows me well can corroborate this—she is a saint. After years of marriage, we have settled into routines: We have our chores or projects, our schedules, and I miss them terribly when we’re away. The comfort of what we share on a daily basis, the blessed here-and-now, is a gift, and I can’t imagine life without those routines with the love of my life. I’d rather eat pasta with her in our dining room than share a five-star meal with anyone else, and I take great comfort in our routine.
I would never say I was thankful for how poorly American Airlines treated us and the 40 other travelers, but it did result in a paradigm shift in the way I view my everyday life. Even with all the challenges of daily living, it is merely a blessing to be, to love, to enjoy the moment. The challenge is finding the ability to see God’s blessing when routine ebbs onward to the mundane. I suppose this is the grace of our bad experience; that and the fact that it gave us a chance to help others not from Evansville limit a tedious situation.
Again, don’t misunderstand me; I’m sure six months from now as we’re loading up 300 young people for our annual Pilgrimage for Life to Washington, D.C., I will not be waxing so poetic about the joys of routine. Yet, perhaps someone reading this will gently remind me of American Airlines’ awful treatment, and maybe that will bring things into perspective once again. Regardless, today, I am truly grateful for my everyday life full of routine; and I pray that, perhaps, you’re experiencing God’s love in the routine of your day, too.