Of People Patience and Peace

“Before the tongue can speak, it must have lost the power to wound.” The Pilgrim

The night before my early morning flight, one of the worst wind storms on record took out the power at my hotel.Strangers and Pilgrims The shuttle drivers assured that all was normal at the Sea-Tac Airport. He was wrong. The power was also out at the airport. Flights were being delayed one hour, than two, than three, until ultimately the delays stretched to more than eight hours. The airport came to a complete stop. The circumstances surpassed a normal weather delay, as all systems were completely shut down. Emergency generators provide low lighting throughout the public spaces. Hour after hour, travelers arrived at the airport for their flights. Passengers, luggage and holiday gifts filled-in every square foot of the terminal. Some people were annoyed, but for the most part everyone resigned themselves to a situation well beyond their control. It was an impressive display of patience on the part of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.

The airline’s personnel divided us into groups according to our flights. Our common flight and common plight gave us a sense community. We were nomadic neighbors exchanging stories about our travels, destinations, and homes. Over the eight hours, I met fascinating people. Students from Saudi Arabia, a vacationing couple from Brazil, a retired school principle from Chicago, an Australian restaurant owner, and businessmen from Venezuela and England, were among them. We laughed about starting our own United Nations, compared notes about the political conditions in our countries and considered the “flat world” that brought us together. We were all aliens caught in unanticipated circumstances. Soon were no longer strangers, but fellow citizens of the same world.

People are weird animals. Spread us around and we will focus on our differences. Bring us together to confront a common adversary and we will find adhesiveness in our humanity. With my Seattle brothers and sisters, I openly discussed forbidden topics – Politics and Religion. We listened to each other with interest. We valued the opportunity to learn and grow in understanding. We dug into our diversity and found our common ground.

Flight 706 departed more than eight hours late. Each of my new friends went their own separate way. The Saudi Arabian Muslims, Latin American and Chicago Jews, English and Australian Christians all dispersed to places in different places in the plane and in the world. They are all good people, fellow travelers, and pilgrims. We are all at home…
Peace on Earth

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