So last Thursday, I flew from California to Nashville through Chicago, and my time in Chicago was both so long and so interesting that I couldn’t help but write about it. However, what I wrote there didn’t feel complete, so I added a little too it. What I wrote in the airport, you’ll find below in italics, with everything I added today in normal print.
Airports are one of the strangest places on the planet. I’m currently sitting in the B terminal at the Chicago O’hare airport. It was built a while ago, and the things that must have been incredible novelties 5 or 10 years ago are beginning to become outdated, like the wifi that’s only free for 30 minutes. There’s not hardly enough seating at any of the gates, and even the walkways are cramped, with shops and the security screening areas protruding out like clots in a blood vein. The spacing makes it apparent that they were afterthoughts, thrown in far later than the day this place was built, just to accommodate it’s growth.
On top of all of this, half of the flights coming into and going out of this airport right now are either delayed, cancelled, or just otherwise messed up. There are hordes of people swarming the customer service desks, probably desperately trying to find a flight home to see grandma, or maybe to make it to their first day of orientation at University. Like I said, it’s just a weird place, but looking back over what I’ve written, I realize my description probably makes it sound like the worst place in the world to be.
For me, travel has always been a time of transition. It could be minor, like going to visit Grandma, or major, like moving to Nashville for university. For some reason though, it’s also been a place that I’ve found peace. Transition means change, and that can be chaotic, and for most people, it certainly is. I know for myself, I tend to come to airports exhausted. That may have something to do with the fact that I tend to fly on 6:45am flights, but I am also almost always leaving a stage of life every time I fly. That means I tend to spend the last week wherever I am squeezing everything out of that experience that I can, even (and especially) when that means not sleeping. That tends to bring me to the airport I’m laying over in around 10am, having been up since 4am, and already sleep deprived, which is exactly what happened on Thursday. However, somehow, writing this from the Sunday afterwards, I can honestly say that I arrived here rested and recharged thanks to my time in the airport.
Maybe this is because I’m listening to Bon Iver, or because I’ve been traveling on my own since I was 12, but I’m actually really glad to be here. It’s nice, despite the slight insanity. The universal randomness of air travel inherently unifies everyone participating in it. You can crack a joke to just about anybody standing next to you while checking the flight status board, and they’ll at least politely laugh, even if the joke isn’t very funny (trust me on this one, I know from experience).
At my gate, there’s an African American woman having a conversation with an Asian man over top of the woman in the seat between them, who is quite frankly, passed out, with sunglasses on and a jacket converted into a blanket. There’s a lady with short hair, dyed blond, talking to herself quite un-calmly as she tells herself to calm down after realizing her flight is cancelled. And you know those tiny chihuahua’s that you see on Facebook, where they kind of look like a teddy bear, and just naturally have their tongue poked out on one side of their mouth at all times? Yeah, there’s one of those too, being led around on a leash by the cutest little girl you’ve ever seen.
I think God consistently promises us rest, if we’re willing to take it, but that rest is more dependent on our perspective than on our circumstances. He leads us through green pastures and by still waters, which may very well be in the valley of the shadow of death. Life can be absolutely chaotic, but if you’re willing to look, (and maybe listen to some Bon Iver), you’ll find the peace and the humanity in it, and I think it is in the moments that you do that God will meet you there. Amidst insane airports and multi-hour flight delays, there are cute children with dogs, if only we’ll see them. Amidst firestorms, earthquakes and lightning, He is in the silence, if only we’ll hear Him, and there, we will find rest.
Originally published at theforlornemoose.wordpress.com on August 21, 2016.