two friends on a flight

On my flight home from Virginia, I sat between two men from Detroit to Chicago. On my left, John and I got off to a great start. We started talking and I found out about his family and a daughter who might be looking at attending Hope College. We ended up really encouraging one another. I enjoyed his stories of his church, travels, and family.

I turned to my right about halfway through the flight and (I forget his name) was equally friendly, but of a quite different sort. He lives not far from where I work at Sullivan’s and so we talked about the bars in the area and where he goes each day of the week. He manages the Marriott hotel, and because he’s a bachelor, he makes the rounds as far as restaurants go. After two gin and tonics, he was sure talkative and anxious to tell me about his exciting life, moving from Hawaii to Detroit to Oklahoma to Chicago and soon to California.

It surprised me how easy it was to transition from the two gentlemen. It reminded me of my father, actually. I think some have said he could make conversation with a deaf mute. It really just takes a measure of perception and a genuine interest. .. Paul said he chose Timothy because he, “took a genuine interest in the affairs of others.” I was almost worried that John would think me a hypocrite because I could talk about bars and cigars (nevermind that my first-hand experience belies my vocabulary).

Well, my friend on the right started talking about the war after I asked him if he voted in the election. Like I said, his tongue was pretty loose, so he was talking about how foolish it was that America had to solve everyone’s problems. John overheard and became very much involved and before long, I was hearing two very sad stories.

John quickly defended the integrity of the armed forces and shared a story of a best friend’s son, a Marine, who was killed in Afghanistan after being there for only a month. He described the honorable funeral and how it’d made an impact on him. I could have imagined it, but I think he was near tears.

My friend on the right was not to be outdone in story telling. He spoke of the craziness of some soldiers after they return from the war. Then he started telling the story of Oklahoma City…where Timothy McVeigh, a well-trained and well-mannered soldier, committed such a heinous crime. "My friend’s father was in the building that day," he told me. His father was killed that day in the hands of Mr. McVeigh and I can’t imagine the roller coaster it’s been for him to understand why.

I was caught in the middle of this conversation and interjected only that my faith is what truly sustains – amidst the wars, chaos, and uncertainties. But, I almost felt the words fall to the ground as I said them. How should I speak to this man who has experienced such loss?

Amadeus captures death through the life of Salieri. At one point he was so angry because God had allowed Mozart first divine inspiration in the form of music and second death, whereas Salieri, suffering from his self-proclaimed mediocrity, was forced to live a long life without divine inspiration whatsoever.

They say, "food for thought." I think this could be a steak. But I must move on to new things!!