Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Airport Conversations and a Gift from God

The flight from Boston to Chicago on my way to Detroit was surprising. As I walked onto plane to take my seat, a young woman near the window cheerfully greeted me. I suspected that we would be talking a great deal on the trip. Then a man sat down in the center seat and he seemed like he would be silent. He pulled out the Autobiography of St. Ignatius, which began a lengthy discussion of the Church and all things Jesuit. He just finished a five-day retreat at Campion Center in Weston, Massachusetts. He graduated from St. Louis University High School and Boston College, but he also has his advanced degree from Harvard University. As a Catholic, he is very involved in his church in Wayland, Massachusetts.

I slipped and told him I was a priest, which often makes for weird airplane conversations, but this dialogue was very refreshing for him. As we deplaned, he said that this was the most enjoyable flight he has had in a long time.

I was puzzled by the words of a few girls who were in their last Twenties. They were complaining that being this particular age was awful. They didn’t say which age would be tolerable, but it made me realize how much they may be missing out on their opportunities.

The time in Detroit was brief, but full. I arrived on a Sunday afternoon even before Carrie, the mother of the newborn, was released from the hospital. This trip was made to baptize their newborn son, Theodore, which means “gift from God.” I held Theodore for many hours as Carrie and Dave rested and entertained family. Instead of a baptism, I blessed the child using some oil from the Holy Land and water from the River Jordan. It was more fitting that the parents be ready to celebrate baptism when they are alert and can look forward to the sacrament. After all, Theodore was just a day old.

Dave an I celebrated the arrival of his second son with Johnny Walker Blue and some entertainment from his new stereo system – vintage 1983 speakers. We inaugurated it with Pink Floyd before moving to Dire Straights, then Chicago, and  a few other albums. It is very nice to listen to an album rather than solely a song.

Detroit is a maligned city. The city portrayed in the newspaper is true, but incomplete. The city in real life is happening. It is a fairly good looking city and right now it is quite green and filled with grass and corner garens. Improvements are coming lot by lot, but a number of high end shops are moving into the downtown areas. They are small steps towards the future and it is going to work out well because it is a grassroots improvement process. It is a feel-good process and I believe that one must own a corner of beauty before it can grow to other areas.

From Detroit to Dallas, a group of women wearing similarly striped dresses boarded the plane and sat nearby. They were going to a massive Mary Kay cosmetics convention. Oh, to be a fly on the wall. They spoke loudly, just as the 28 year-olds from Boston to Chicago. What makes a person project so loudly? Wouldn’t someone in their lives tell them the learning volume control tips can make them more receptive to more people?

O.K.  Off to see my father. He is in San Antonio and my visit will be brief, but he has a few medical procedures on the horizon. Soon, I’ll be back in Amman and I’ll be able to sleep and rest. I feel like a citizen of the world. Oh, the soul searching one does when one travels. Life is good, but my next vacation will be to advance my writing in a couple of books I’m working on (I should choose one and finish it) and to take photographs, draw, and paint. I think those activities will relax me. I want to see what emerges.


  1. You have certainly been busy but you have had the opportunity to interact in many lives - from the lives of strangers to those of good friends and family - from the life of little Theodore to the life of your father. Blessings for the remainder of your journey. Thanks for sharing.