Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pilgrims don't fly solo

Pilgrimages include travel and interaction with others. 

Mark & Jill unite with the Houts in Paris
We are in the midst of 24 hours of travel to our first destination in Amman. The idea of flying for 10 hours is not everyone’s idea of fun. Add 500 people and one can feel claustrophobic. Being seated next to a one-year-old, I confess I was a bit anxious. Of course, God works in mysterious ways. I learned in my business life to be compassionate to parents in airplanes. To the solo mom with her 1 year old, being crammed into the middle of a row could not have been her idea of the ideal way to travel. I found myself assisting with our hesitation. 

Over my shoulder, a woman was talking loudly, random thoughts with seemingly no one listening. The adults around her started acting frustrated, though oddly, I never heard anyone ask her to quiet down. It continued for hours. Back in my row, the little child was great. Sleeping for a few hours, then eating, diaper change and then back to sleep. I wonder if our first response to a stranger is compassion or frustration?

When I think about the caravans of pilgrims over the centuries to the temple, respective holy sites and historical markers … I wonder whether folks kept their eyes down and muttered complaints about the folks around them or, if perhaps, a warm heart and deep understanding of sharing the journey dominated. We know Mary and Joseph were not welcomed  before giving birth to Jesus. On the other hand, we know that when they caravanned to the Temple when he was a boy, children would roam up and down the line - everyone caring for each other's children.

We are about to board our second flight. A short five hours this time. I wonder whether my heart will be open or closed as I take  my seat?

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