Monday, the day I returned, was an unusually easy day of travel. And not just easy, but pleasant and good. It was full of those small moments of grace and kindness, where people help one another in ways large and small, where things just seem to go smoothly. Some of it could be written off as coincidence, but others can only be God's grace manifesting itself through us regular folks.
For starters, I had an easy trip to the airport in the early morn. When United Airlines emailed me, saying that I'd been changed from a 1pm flight to 9:25am, I quailed at the thought of walking to the tube at 5:45am, dragging my bags up and down the stairs, fighting with commuters at Kings Cross, and missing my flight due to horrendous lines at Heathrow. But somehow, things seemed to flow in serendipity. Rachel and I found a better way to get me across London, and she graciously took me to the Tube at 6am. After a hug and a picture of the pigeons eating leftover curry, I travelled to Paddington, caugh the express, and made it to Heathrow right on time. Somehow, each train magically appeared as I reached the platform, the crowds were minimal -- things just flowed smoothly.
At the airport, the lines were long but moved quickly. Everything felt relaxed. In the security line, I ran into the Turners' friend John and his buddies headed to Dubai for their theatre gig. On the plane, I said a grateful prayer at having an empty seat next to me, until an attendant asked if I would change with a woman and her 1 yr old. This was one of those moments -- wouldn't I have appreciated someone doing this for me? It felt good to help her in this way, and smile and say to her, "I know travelling with a baby isn't easy." (And the fact that my new seat was in Economy Plus, with and extra 4" of leg room? I'm not complaining.) The flight was easy, and I watched 3 good movies (Becoming Jane, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Why Did I Get Married?), and read, and dozed, and played with a fussy toddler by the bathrooms.
Passport Control went smoothly, as did baggage and customs. I wandered across the terminal, ate tortilla soup, and just felt good. As I crossed back through security, the TSA agent -- easily old enough to be my father -- complimented me on my blouse in such a genuine, understated manner that it made you feel just like a compliment should -- happy and grateful and in the mood to compliment someone else. And although our flight was delayed almost 2 hours, it didn't feel like a catatstrophe, which it wasn't. Just a small speedbump which is so easily absorbed into the calm of the day, if we can relax and let it. Best of all was the sight of my sweet hubby pulling up at the airport, kissing him hello and snuggling up to him as I fell asleep.
I'm not sure exactly why I've described this in such detail. I guess it just felt like the perfect ending to a good trip -- good friends, exciting academic progress, and now a final day of rest and calm. So often, travel (especially international) leaves everyone feeling crabby and selfish, only looking out for themselves. But today just felt different, somehow covered by God's grace. It may not happen often, but we give thanks when it does. And hopefully, we can be part of the chain of grace, a wave of blessing and shalom, even in the small things.