Airport Encounter

Deb and I were on our way home from General Assembly, our church’s biennial national convention. It was my first Assembly as a regional minister, and I was tired.

I was tired, and yet a lot was swirling around in my head.

The week had been full of activity. The church had business to attend to, some of it difficult. Troublesome discussions were handled with grace, but the thoughts of possible responses back home kept me concerned.

The General Assembly required a lot of extroverted behavior. So for a strong introvert like me, it was long past time to retreat and recharge.

When I need to refresh and recharge, I play.

When I need to sort things out, I play. Playing and praying are almost synonymous for me. I rarely travel without a guitar anymore, and we had a three-hour layover in Houston. So I found a more or less deserted gate, got out my guitar and started to play.

After a while, I noticed that a woman had moved to the seat behind me. I continued to play, deep in conversation with Minerva, the guitar that had accompanied me on this trip. I never mind if people eavesdrop on those conversations.

At one point, the lady listener asked if I was a professional musician. I replied that although I do get paid to play, it wasn’t my primary source of income. She complimented my playing, which is always a welcome affirmation.

I had a few CDs in my guitar case, and so when she got up to head to her gate, I handed one to her. It’s nice to be able to give people music to go, especially when they’ve enjoyed what you do. She went her way, and eventually Deb and I made our way home to Oklahoma.

Then a few weeks later on a Sunday afternoon, I was returning from preaching in Lawton and began to discover comments on my web site. The comments all described an article about me in the Detroit Free Press. “Detroit?” I thought, “I’ve not been in Detroit since I don’t know when.”

With the help of Google, I discovered that the listener at the Houston airport was Ellen Creager, who writes for the Free Press as The Michigan Traveler. In her column, she described needing the music in much the same way I did. She reminded me of “entertaining angels unaware,” that we may often receive opportunities to be instruments of grace in ways that we do not recognize.

Just in case, if at all possible, be graceful. We never know when one of those messengers may be a pilgrim, traveling through a wearisome land.

(Read Ellen’s column about our encounter here.)

1 thought on “Airport Encounter

  1. Susan McNeely says:

    Dean, what an absolutely wonderful story (or perhaps, gospel lesson in modern language)!

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