I believe airplanes are one of the greatest places for getting to know people. My philosophy is that if you have to sit next to them for hours on end, you might as well love them and show them you care about their lives. (my uncle would say that's called being nosy, but whatever.) Sometimes you can do this without words even passing. I remember one time this happened in particular.
My family and I sat in our seats, passing books and snacks and getting situated as other passengers with mobility issues boarded. I looked up as one woman walked onto the plane. On her way to her seat she lost her balance and nearly fell. She must have caught the concern in my eyes, for when she steadied herself she looked my way and winked. With a smile she found her seat.
Such a tiny moment. A millisecond, really. But I have remembered her wink for years. She could have taken offense that I was watching her and scowled. She could have ignored me in the face of her own struggle. But instead she took that moment to reassure me that she was okay.
Is that as profound to you as it is to me?
We spent some time with dear friends last week, and one of our discussions has been running through my mind...along with this memory of the dear woman on the airplane.
Our friends were talking about how during surgeries, hospitalizations, or whatever trying event we're going through, we need to remember that just because that is the most important/difficult thing in our lives at that moment doesn't mean it is the most important thing in someone else's life...or that we're the only ones going through a difficult time. You can't say, "Yeah, sorry about that, but my brother/aunt/cousin/friend is in the hospital, so I'm really focused on that right now." You have to continue to invest in other people's lives and realize that they are going through "stuff", too.
To me, that's exactly what that woman on the plane did. She was struggling, and she looked past her own pain to comfort someone else. Every time I remember her I'm amazed. What grace. I hope I can live a life that extends such grace to everyone, and that looks past my own struggle to help someone in theirs.