Our flight to Philadelphia on Saturday morning was delayed getting out of Burlington, which left us about 20 minutes to make our connection. There were a number of us on the plane flying to Mexico, and so we hoped they’d hold the flight if we were late, but we sprinted and got to the gate just as the final passenger was boarding. Our hearts were pounding, we were out of breath, sweating and happy as we arrived at the gate on-time, behind the last few entering passengers.
The woman ahead of me tried to give her boarding pass to the attendant but she wouldn’t take it, saying that we were too late. “What?!” There are people going down the ramp right now!” my fellow passenger gasped, trying to catch her breath. The airline worker was stone-faced. Then about 15 of us, all who were booked for that flight (which was still sitting at the gate, as they loaded passengers) started asking why we could not get on. The 2 women behind the desk began looking things up on the computer so we waited and waited and when someone asked what they’d found out, one of them looked up said, “I can’t deal with any of you right now. I am finishing up this flight.” The long and the short of it was, that they had filled all of the seats (probably had over-booked the flight) and we were sent to customer relations.
Our unhappy little pod of 15 made our way to the customer service desk and were told that we would be put on stand-by for the 7pm flight (it was currently 10 a.m) which was full also, or we would be guaranteed a seat on the 7:30 a.m. flight the next morning. My visions of sitting on the beach, smelling that wonderful sea air, under the full, Cinco de Mayo moon, seemed to be fading and were rapidly being absorbed by the dismal thought of spending the night in a Philadelphia airport hotel under cloudy, diesel-fuel-smelling skies.
Some people were accepting the stand-by tickets, others were trying to get any flight out of Philadelphia, and I was becoming more discouraged as several hours ticked by. At one point I plopped down in a seat outside the customer service area, and closed my eyes. I could feel a cauldron of negative emotion swirling around my gut. I kept trying to imagine arriving that evening and seeing Matt (my son who was flying in from L.A., and would be waiting for us) but I didn’t really feel any better…my efforts felt insignificant and puny.
Suddenly my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but answered it anyway. The voice on the other end said, “Hello Mary? This is Brother Michael. I used to work with Sister Margaret…” Sister Margaret (a Catholic nun) was my beloved spiritual advisor who had died several years ago. I wrote about her on this blog once. She was well-known for saying goodbye with the words, “Have a wild day!” Brother Michael (a monk) had never called me in all of the years that I had known him. He had a very mundane question about, of all things, the skin balm that I make, but I knew that this call had nothing to do with that.
Sister Margaret’s name brought a peace to me that felt like a hug. I hung up the phone and my son Tom (who had been very patiently working with the customer service people for the past 2 hrs) handed me a piece of paper with an 800 number, and asked me to call it and tell them what happened. I called and immediately got the sweetest guy named Jeremy* who put us on the 3:30 flight to Charlotte NC with a connector to Mexico. I told him that the customer relations people had already tried this flight and it was over-booked. He said, “Well, I’ve just put you on it. You’ll get in at 8:15 tonight.”And he was right.
“You are not just a meaningless fragment in an alien universe, briefly suspended between life and death, allowed a few short-lived pleasures followed by pain and ultimate annihilation. Underneath your outer form, you are connected with something so vast, so immeasurable and sacred, that it cannot be spoken of – yet I am speaking of it now. I am speaking of it now not to give you something to believe in, but to show you how you can know it for yourself.” Eckhart Tolle
*When I got home, I looked up the meaning of the name Jeremy….it means, “God will raise up.”