I flew home yesterday afternoon from Houston TX, anticipating landing in Harrisburg around 9:40 pm Saturday evening. We actually arrived at Houston’s George Bush Airport about 3 and a half before our scheduled departure. My traveling part Dan and I found some good Texas brisket for dinner, wandered a few shops, then headed to the gate for Cincinnati. There we joined two other friends from Lancaster who were also heading home. The flight went well and we arrived at Cincinnati a few minutes early. All that was left was to wait for them to call for boarding on our last piece of the journey.
Have you ever watched people waiting at an airport departure gate? There’s the parent who is trying to corral a rambunctious child, and older couples rechecking their itinerary for the tenth time. There are those people who glued to their cell phones or iPhones whiling away the moments talking to the people who will meet that at the home airport. There’s the business man down to his short sleeves, who even on a Saturday afternoon, is writing a report and checking his email on his computer. There is the college kid sitting cross-legged on the floor reading a book or listening to music on this iPod. The well dressed middle-aged woman who is sitting quietly and emotionally above the craziness around them. There are the bored people staring out into space.
What is usually true is that they are operating as individuals totally detached from one another. People occupying the same piece of real estate temporarily, trying to be isolated from the demands and disturbances of others.
When they board the plane they push along as quickly as they can and entering the cabin jostle one another a bit to get a prime spot in the overhead compartment. Except for an occasional “excuse me” they settle into their seat still pretty much as individuals hoping that the screaming baby or the babbling passenger is not seated next to them.
That pretty much described the passengers of Delta Flight 6150 to Harrisburg. It was after dark when we boarded, but we were all grateful to be headed on that final leg. Except we sat in the plane for longer than anticipated. Then there was the dreaded announcement that our flight was delayed because of a possible equipment problem, followed by several more such announcements until the inevitable one: “We are going to ask you to deplane and return to the gate as we find another plane.”
A strange thing happened when we returned to the terminal. Stranger suddenly became acquaintances. Disconnected people connected. We waited together swapping airline stories, asking about loved ones waiting, offering snacks from our stashes of M and Ms and fruit. Laughing, asking questions about our journeys. When we boarded the next plane, people were polite and courteous, helping one another store luggage, and even swapping seats so that everyone could be more comfortable.
It reminds me that God has wired us for relationships. “Two are better than one,” says Ecclesiastes 4:9. Sometimes it takes common problems or common experiences to draw this piece of our spiritual DNA out of hiding.
Two are better.