|ps from ps:|
I had to do the “OJ” with Michelle last night. Not that “OJ!!” The other “OJ.” The 70’s one from the commercial where OJ runs through the airport and jumps over stuff.
Yes, after a restful few days in Phoenix visiting my sister with not much on the schedule and no rushing around, all hell broke loose in the Newark airport. I’m sure you’ve all had similar experiences. What was once an hour and 20 minutes to get from one plane to the next turned into us walking off our plane in Terminal C, Gate 138 and having to get to Terminal A, Gate 28 in 20 minutes. And yes, it involved (a) starting from row 34 in the arriving plane with 189 people that didn’t have connections trying to get off in front of us, (b) a dead sprint wearing sandals and carrying two carry-on bags each, (c) several flights of stairs to a bus that moves you more slowly than you can imagine in between terminals and (d) a pretty needed bathroom stop, which never happened.
But we made it! To A28! At 9:40pm for the 9:45pm flight. Amazing! To find the Gate door shut and the sign reading Boarding Closed. Less amazing.
So struggling for breath, I wandered over to Gate 27, a flight to Rochester, to see if we could get on and at least get closer than a 6 hour drive back to Buffalo. As I approached that Gate and looked out the window, I could see it. Our plane was still at the end of the A28 jetway. It hadn’t left!! So I explained to the United employee our last stressful hour and he said…..
Now pause. We all know how air travel works. Me especially. Pre-Covid, I averaged 4-5 flights a year, usually with two or three planes in each trip and EVERYONE knows they close the boarding door 10-15 minutes before departure and you need an Act of Congress to get that thing opened up. So the choices for this staffer ranged from (a) “back away sweaty panting man” to (b) “you know the rules buddy” to (c) “not my problem moron.”
Instead he picked a different response and he said…..
“Let me see what I can do.”
Despair turned to limited hopefulness. The pain in my sandal-torn feet disappeared.
He called the agent at the end of the Buffalo flight’s jetway. In a dejected voice, he said, “Oh, you pulled the jetway away already.” My heart sank. He said one more thing to his colleague over the phone and hung up.
And then he said “Follow me.”
He ran us back over to the A28 door, scanned our tickets, punched 1234 in the code box on the security door (isn’t every code 1234?) and walked us right down the jetway. We were greeted by another employee who said: “Glad you made it! Welcome aboard! Let’s get you seated.”
I swear at that moment I saw choirs of angels singing and cherubim and seraphim doing whatever it is they do. And an hour later we were back on the tarmac in the 716, instead of in the rental car line staring a six-hour drive right in the face.
Last night, we experienced grace. God’s undeserved love and favor. And I know it will change my day, my week, my memories of these few days and how I will treat other people.
I tell you this crazy story because I believe that this is the lifestyle that Jesus invites each of us into. I don’t know if this guy was Christian or Buddhist or Muslin or a Jets fan. But through his actions and his desire to choose good and grace and compassion, I was able to see what the world could be like if all of us who follow this grace-filled Savior actually lived it out. Lived it out when other negative choices are available. Lived it out when it’s easier to do nothing. Lived it out when it might be inconvenient. Lived it out when some protocols should be overlooked. Lived it out with sweaty, out of breath strangers who tried hard but missed the mark.
Grace is given to all of us. Not to just be celebrated in church. Studied in a Bible study. Or words in a sermon. It’s designed and gifted by God to change our moments. Letting those moments change our lives. Letting those lives change others. And letting those others change the world.
And maybe it can all begin for you today at your Gate A28.
Lord, help me to live into and live out your grace. Amen
Be well, safe and blessed!