The glamour of travel may be forever gone. Comfortable and enhancing journeys from one place to another are rare and prohibitively expensive. We are now crammed into the smallest of spaces with the bare minimum of options. Recently while squeezing myself into a penitential sized seat on the tinniest passenger aircraft in all Christendom, I was scolded by a fellow passenger for pausing to extract a book from my pack before placing the bag in the overhead compartment. An action that took me precisely fifteen seconds was apparently enough to aggravate this stranger into verbal antagonism. I suppose I should let it go in light of the fact that everyone traveling these days is stressed and on edge. Security lines, automated bag checks, tart travel personnel who spend their days answering the same tedious questions, all create an environment of tension and frustration exacerbated by endless delays before ascending into the sky within the confines of a floating prison.
Little courtesies surprisingly stand out in this hostile travel world. Allowing someone ahead of you in line, offering a smile to the gate checker, returning a greeting with eye contact are a shaft of sunlight on a dark and wretched day. It feels a bit like being a missionary descending into a dangerous and unpredictable environment offering hope and courage where there is fear and despair. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed about my work and the seemingly infinite responsibilities of ministry, I remind myself my most important task is to offer kindness in whatever moment I find myself. In the sky or a traffic jam, in the market or in a mad rush – stop – breathe – practice patience . . . and miraculously the sun comes out.