I heard that petting your cat helps lower blood pressure. If so and if I had a cat, it would be hairless today. Alas, there were no cats available.
Coloring is also said to relieve anxiety and calm a person. Now, that was available for me to purchase so I spent an inordinate amount of money on colored pencils, an adult coloring book and a pencil sharpener. I guess I expected to color the pencils dull.
What exactly brought me to the point of needing an external source of calm? Let me take you to the beginning of the day!
My mom had a pacemaker implanted the end of March. Everything went splendidly and she continues to recover wonderfully, but I decided to make a trip to see her in the spring to help with her outside work rather than waiting until summer when I usually go to Montana. In spite of crazy ticket prices and indirect routes to where I wanted to go, I bought a ticket.
I left home before the sun was up to catch a 7 a.m. flight to Minneapolis where I had a three hour layover before going on to Salt Lake City and to my final destination in Kalispell. I was confident and calm, sure of how I would pass the time. After grabbing a bit of breakfast, I manuevered to my gate area and nestled into a seat a few rows away from my gate but still within my line of sight. Well, that is if my eyes were in the back of my head! Just saying…!
I played some games on my iPad, listened to the church service from where I attend, and watched people. I noted the passing of time, quite sure I was right where I needed to be to hear boarding announcements. At some point I lost track of time . . . it was like when you are going somewhere and you leave the house on time but when you get in the car which is literally just a few steps into the garage, there has been a time warp. Suddenly you are 15 minutes late!
That is what I was when I looked at the time. It was 11 a.m. That was departure time for my flight and I was not on that plane. Rushing to the gate agent, I asked if the flight was boarding. He looked at me so funny and said, “That flight left.” Well, how exactly could that happen? I am still right here!
Apparently he doesn’t have the power to call the plane back for this one person. So there I was. Not on the plane and quite steadfastly standing in the terminal. My heart dropped. What now?
It only took a few minutes on the phone and I secured a seat on another flight going directly to Kalispell later in the day. It meant six hours of down time in the airport but it could definitely be worse! I mean — it wouldn’t have been so strange for me to need to spend the night in Minneapolis.
As I adjusted my mind to this new reality, I felt myself wanting to find a reason. Surely there was a reason. Maybe those other planes were going to have trouble and never arrive at their destination. Maybe there was a troublemaker on board . . . and my mind threatened to go down the rabbit holes of needing to find some meaning or purpose in my delay. Surely there was something to learn. Something that I could take away from this experience.
Let’s just be honest. I wasn’t listening. Not only was I not listening, apparently I wasn’t close enough to the gate to hear announcements. And my back was toward the gate so I couldn’t even see when the boarding process started.
Perhaps the takeaway is a reminder to listen better, to stay alert, watch and see what is happening around me or I will miss the main event. That would be an excellent takeaway.
Perhaps the takeway is a reminder to be flexible; a lesson in letting go, realizing I really am not in control. Sometimes it is just not in my power to change an unfortunate event.
Perhaps I was too focused on what was happening around me to other people. I heard everyone else’s boarding calls, reminders and last calls. Learning to listen for my name, keeping my mind focused on what is being said to me is another good takeaway.
Perhaps I needed a lesson in humility. As I boarded the flight in South Bend, another passenger told the flight attendant this was his first time to fly since 9/11. He was noticeably nervous. I felt a bit smug. After all, I fly more than the average person and am quite calm about it. I generally move quickly and efficiently through the process and make corrections if needed. Perhaps I needed a reminder that arrogance and pride are not from the Father.
All of those are good takeaways from this experience. But after thinking about it and staying attuned to what the Holy Spirit might be saying, I sensed it was just an event. Life happens. I get distracted. I miss things. Not everything carries with it deep meaning and life lessons. It’s okay for an event to just be an event.
I am the first to say there is always something to learn when faced with obstacles. Today I learned to roll with the punches, take a few deep breaths and practice gratitude. At our house we have a large imaginary bucket called the “Oh Well!” bucket. This experience and the extra money it cost me to spend the day in Minneapolis went in there. It can’t be changed. I am not stupid. The day is not wasted.
What is it you struggle to make sense of? Are obstacles popping up like hurdles in the road? What if there isn’t some big cosmic lesson you are supposed to learn? What if your name hasn’t been drawn from the lottery box in the sky to be the next contestant on “learn this lesson?” What if it’s just the way life happens and that’s why Jesus said he wasn’t going to leave us alone? Instead of saying, “Why me?” what if you said, “Why not me?”
So, I’m giving myself a bucket full of grace for not listening, for not watching and for missing my flight. All is well, all is well and all will be well! And this scripture gives me a great deal of comfort too. I think more it’s more calming to my restless heart than the coloring. Now I’ve learned that too!
3You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. 4You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. 5You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! 7I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!Psalm 139:3-7