Recently I experienced the worst traveling week of my life.
That is not a complaint. It is simply a fact.
I think I spent more time sitting/waiting/crying/complaining/whining/throwing a “brat-of-God”-like temper-tantrum” in 6 airports than actually flying.
I had 3 cancelled flights, a 2-hour detour in the middle of the country due to weather, a $100 change fee, an extra day in a “layover”-city, and lots of time wasted while waiting on phone lines for US Airways, United and Continental, aggravated that the stupid automated machine couldn’t understand my confirmation code after the 5th time of me saying RXKGT8 like “R” as in Ron, “X” as in Xylophone, “K” as in Kite, “G” as in Growing Impatient, “T” as in Ticked, and the number 8 (which was definitely an example of Brian Regan’s comedy on “confirmation codes.”)
So here was the situation: I was supposed to get to Orange County (from ATL and PHX) on Thursday night, unpack and pack (and get my guitar and CDs for that weekend’s events) and fly out again on Friday morning to San Francisco.
However, that is NOT what happened. Due to weather, I got stuck in the PHX airport after my delayed-and-then-missed flight. I arrived at 1 am, thinking that I was going to be able to fly out early to get back to Orange County. Nope. Since EVERYBODY was stuck in PHX, the next available flight to ALL of Southern California was at 7pm to LAX the next day.
This is where the whining and crying began: “But I’m supposed to be in San Francisco by tomorrow morning on a completely different airline!!!”
After fixing all the mess, the GRACE began.
I called my bass player and friend, Ryan, who I figured would be the only person I wouldn’t upset at 2 o’clock in the morning. It just so happened that my electric guitar player, Bud, was visiting from California and he and Ryan were awake, recording music! Sweet! The two of them woke up worship leader and fashionista Andrea, and all three came to pick me up from the airport.
The day went like this: sleeping in, washing clothes, chatting with Bud, Ryan, Daniel, Andrea over breakfast and coffee, replying to emails, making calls to secure a guitar for the 2 weekend events, shopping with Andrea (to get some shirts, since I still had my 3 previous days of clothes), and eating at In-N-Out.
It was a BEAUTIFUL day that was about to get even better.
On my re-booked flight to LAX, the only seats left were in 1st class. The attendant asked if I wanted to be seated in a window or aisle seat. I said “window.” Then she asked, “1F or 2F?”. I said, “2F,” knowing that 1F didn’t have space for my purse and laptop to be placed by my feet.
I boarded the plane, sat in 2F, and started praying/reading my “St. Louis de Montfort” consecration book. A nice 40-something man sat next to me, but I stayed in my little own little world. Once we were about to take off, I put down the book and the man next to me said, “Excuse me. I noticed you were reading a book about Mary. I’m Catholic. Are you?”
I replied, “Yes!” being so excited to have something in common with the person next to me, since traveling can be very lonely and tedious.
He said, “I got to go to Medjugorje a few years ago and it was beautiful!”
Noticing his accent I said, “That’s awesome! I would love to go there sometime. So, where are you from?”
He said, “Sydney, Australia.”
Immediately a light went on in my head, and my thoughts said quickly, “Jackie, you know someone from Sydney! Okay, but it’s only ONE person. There’s no way this guy could know your friend. Don’t even mention it.”
So I went on to say, “Oh, cool! It must’ve been crazy to have experienced World Youth Day there a few years ago with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims running around your city.”
He replied, “Yeah, it was great! It was so neat to see all these faithful people all over the place.”
Casually I said, “Well, my friend, Patrick, who lives in New York now, started Theology on Tap in Sydney a few years ago.”
The man’s face brightened up in disbelief and said, “Patrick!? Patrick Langrell?”
In complete shock I busted out laughing, saying, “You KNOW Patrick?! I mean he’s the ONLY Australian I know and YOU know him?!!!”
He replied, “His dad and I coach rugby together, and his little brother and my son are good friends!”
I said, “Oh my goodness! Not only do you know of Patrick, but you know his family WELL!”
We both laughed in utter incredulity, introduced ourselves, and then joyfully conversed for the rest of the flight. At the end, we exchanged information, and he made me promise to send him and his family a CD of mine.
This experience was definitely not “by chance.” I mean, come on! I wasn’t supposed to be on that flight, I CHOSE my seat, this guy only flies once every 3-5 years to America for his job, and I only know ONE Australian person! What are the chances of all these things coming together? It’s called God.
I had a horrible traveling week. I was physically sick and exhausted, and tired of traveling, and God allowed for me to experience this joyful, beautiful moment.
I just kept thinking, “All things work for good for those who love God.” – Romans 8:28.
Thank you, Lord. When my head is not stuck in the mud of complaining, I am so grateful for your humor and gifts that you give to your daughter.