Sometimes you invite folks into your life or into your thoughts or your space and really can’t remember how they got there.
I saw her headed to the bathroom. I remember thinking she did not look well. By the time she reappeared, everyone had deplaned, that is everyone that was not going on to Chicago. Me, her and about a half dozen other folks.
Inadvertently I had blocked the aisle. Standing and stretching, it had been a long day and now another three hours on the plane. She was speaking into my neck when I flew around and found her.
She was loud. I am not fond of loud.
“You waiting for the bathroom?” she spoke-shouted. “No, just stretching,” and as if I meant it, I said, “How are you?” Not one half second passed for her to say, “Absolutely terrible.”
Because we were now incredibly close together, I felt I couldn’t let her pass without at least a question, a word, a hug, something.
I went for, “What can I do for you?”
First there was air sickness: I did move to a safer distance with that one. Then she explained she was travelling for a funeral. She didn’t truly want to be on three flights to get there, but she had done it and without wavering she added, “for her friend.” This woman who I had momentarily cast as loud and perhaps nauseous was truly a brave, compassionate soul.
I applauded her.
Jim Elliot said, “wherever you are, be all there.”
You see, I didn’t really want to be in the isle. I really was not excited about chatting with my elderly friend for the entire plane to hear. But missing her moxy would have been a mistake. She encouraged me in ways she could have never known.
I was tired, but my destination was home and family and love and rest.Her destination, as some twenty years my senior, was alongside a friend and a casket.Life is a bottle to be poured out; we always have the choice to taste the sweet in the bitter.
There is always joy in the midst if we choose to be “all there.” If we choose to see, to hear, to be present.
I told my new friend to be brave. I told her how much I admired her. And I offered her my peppermint stick, a gift from my baby daughter for her motion sickness.
I struggle with still sickness - looking beyond what is in front of me.
“All there,” it is the act of being aware of Him. It is being brave in the face of whatever we are facing. It is knowing the joy, the true heaven- sent joy, is realizing He is there, even if we don’t want to be.