Every so often I get an urge to write creatively. The inspiration often comes with holiday seasons and the Story that marks the Christmas season. I’ve been pondering the story of the shepherds as the gospel of Luke portrays them. What I begin with this post will continue for the next few weeks as I continue my own dialogue with the shepherds and the angels. Enjoy… The smell of baking cookies filled the house creating a warm welcoming sense of home. A kitchen light shone from the back of the house like the beacon of a lighthouse provides a pathway to a place of welcome. A television program fills the room with sound but no one was watching. Everyone is busy with other tasks while the television set merely provides background noise.
When one is a child there is an innocence or naivete that blinds you to these kinds of things. You know nothing different: at least until something extraordinary disrupts life’s routine. The ability to sense and appreciate such smells, sights and sounds is a gift of maturity or a maybe a sign of old age.
Tom was jolted back to the present. He was daydreaming again, or was it reminiscing? He never knew the difference. Were daydreams the stuff of what might be while reminiscence were limited to past reality? No matter. He was in the reality of the moment – a reality that found him traveling as he did so much of the year.
He glanced around the airport. It would be another forty-five minutes before his flight would board and after the three and a half hour cross-country flight he would finally rest in his own bed. It didn’t matter that he wouldn’t be there until well after midnight. It would be the first night home in almost two weeks. He was tired – of travel, job, strangers in airports, and a list of any number of other things. He longed to be home in a warm, quiet, familiar place.
At thirty-five minutes to go Tom felt the need to move. He felt as though he were becoming attached to very uncomfortable airport furniture. He took a walk along the concourse. He saw the usual things – people like him, who were waiting; others – late arrivals – who were running to a departure gate; children who were restless and bored, and exhausted parents who were doing their best to keep their restless and bored children entertained. There were people who seemingly talked to themselves but who were talking on their bluetooth device to the home office or home or someone else on a bluetooth device in another airport in another city. As Tom walked the length of the hallway he took it in and what he saw made him even more eager to be home.
Gate 17 had become a more populous, not popular place as other passengers began arriving. Tom sighed that this was going to be yet another full flight. He wished he had a travel budget that would afford a first class seat. Instead he found himself assigned to 19D and considered it a small consolation that he had an aisle rather than middle seat. He hoped his Row 19 companions weren’t talkative or under the age of 25. He hoped that Row 19 didn’t include the woman in the red plaid sweater who sat in the waiting gate area.
Betty chose the plaid sweater for several reasons. The most important was that she called it her “lucky sweater.” It wasn’t that the sweater brought good fortune. The sweater had not kept hardship or calamity from touching her life. It wasn’t particularly attractive but it was her “lucky sweater” because her grandchildren had given it to her as a Christmas present. She named it “lucky” because she felt so blessed to have a wonderful family.
Tom watched as the plaid sweater lady and a few others moved to the jetway when the agents called for pre-boarding. He would board with group 3 for the flight home so he knew that overhead storage space would be limited. Thankfully he had checked his larger bag and carried only his computer bag. It would fit easily beneath the seat if there was no overhead space available.
He watched as each group was called to board. The first class passengers had it easiest and Tom often felt as though he were being looked down upon when he walked by those privileged 8 or 10 seated in their wide, comfortable seats sipping their complimentary beverages. Finally group 3 was called and Tom instinctively gathered his bag and boarding pass.
He waited on the jetway as passengers boarded the plane. He noted how cold it was in this bouncing metal tube leading from the width of the gate area to the cramped fuselage of the Boeing 737. When he reached the plane’s interior he began the mental count of rows and passengers.
Almost immediately Tom noticed the red-plaid sweater lady…