The flight to Dallas had not been on time from any perspective…delays texted to me before my airport arrival, more delays after checking in, and even more delays at the gate. Further waiting occurred on the runway and then evaluation delays before landing. My arrival time to the wonderful home in which I was staying was delayed from around 8:30 pm to 11:00 p.m. But the warm hospitality of this wonderful couple in rural Briar, Texas made it worth the wait. They could not have been more kind and they situated me most comfortably in this land of beautiful bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes.
The ladies day was a soul-refresher, too—renewing old sisterhood relationships and forging new friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime. Watching young teens ( and some older ladies, too) using their talents to lead our worship gave me hope for the future of our great sisterhood. Our study of the sower and the soils in Matthew 13, Luke 8 and John 4 was a refresher course in evangelism that I needed. The peace of this study of the Master Sower and His Seed was almost palatable enough to make me forget that the lightning was flashing, the thunder booming and the rain crashing down on the outside of that old country church building. I heard about the baseball-sized hail that was falling nearby, but my mind was focused, for the entire morning, on the serenity of trusting Him.
Until I got in the car for that mad dash to the airport and realized that my flight had been canceled. The text message had come while I was speaking. Not only that, but the flight on which I’d been rebooked was taking off before I could possibly make it to the airport. The estimated call-back time from American Airlines to try and find sufficient information for booking yet again were over 2 hours. Updates online were slow coming. Word was that over 80 planes had been grounded at DFW due to hail damage. and most of the ones not grounded were having a pretty hard time exiting the stormy Dallas/Fort Worth atmosphere. There was a 9:10 pm flight that was still posted as “on-time” and that was my only choice to fly back without missing Sunday worship. So I asked my sweet hosts to drop me at the airport and let me see if that flight really could get me home.
When they dropped me off at the BNA, I exited a car full of warmth and real hospitality. My every need had been met with extreme consideration. I’d marveled at the secret cellar door Brother Bradberry had constructed—a bookshelf that magically opened to a stairwell. He’d played the violin for me and even given me some violin and harp music to enjoy in my car. (His music teacher was, to my surprise, a former member of The Sons of the Pioneers.) They’d fed me breakfast and taken me out for dinner. They’d patiently waited for my incoming flights and given me a cozy place to sleep. They’d shown me lots of bronze sculptures by an amazing artist who had lived his life as a member of the church there. His pieces were showcased in public arenas around Dallas. Sister Bradberry has shown me gorgeous quilts that she had designed and pieced and quilted. All in all, I felt as if I had a VIP pass to a museum of culture and art. And it was all there in a sweet little house in a rural spot just between Boyd and Azle, Texas.
And then I went into the world. There at the curb for departures, I left genuine fellowship and concern, warm handshakes and hugs and walked into chaos and havoc, anger and disgust— on faces, in audible snarls and in cursings of the weather, of the various airlines and of airline representatives who could not have possibly been responsible for all the mayhem. It was kind of like exchanging a security blanket for a muleta at a bull fight. I think I have never heard so many profanities, expletives and gutter words in one thirty minute period as I did during my check-in process at the airport. Police had just handcuffed some drunkards who’d had a little too much time and drink in that airport that day. Angry travelers who’d survived long flights 24 hours ago had then spent the day, unexpectedly, waiting…and waiting…and wandering from switched gate to switched terminal …and waiting some more. Frustrated airline representatives were snapping back at rude customers and sometimes even at entire groups of passengers waiting at their gates. The storm on the outside had made its way into the airport and the explosive tempers there made for a choleric mood in every crowded terminal passageway. People were hungry and had been drinking too much and many had spent far more than they’d ever intended, leaving themselves wanting for provisions for the rest of their journeys. To put it mildly, people were mad.
Lesson one from that stormy night: In times of distress and anxiety, there’s a vast difference between the dispositions of the few people who have chosen the narrow “rural roads” and the multitudes who are crowding from gate to gate through the broad “terminals” of life. When I see them in clear contrast, I’m so happy to be a part of the family of God. And may I see them in clear contrast; not just on the stormy days, but every day.