I wanted to be left alone. I am not much for talking on planes anyway, and the woman sitting next to me seemed to be somewhat of an introvert. She was a younger woman, quiet, reserved, dressed conservatively, and with a Bible in one hand. After I took my window seat, I pulled out my journal and began frantically writing all of my thoughts down. I began to get lost in them, I somehow was transported outside the plane, outside of myself even and was concentrated only on my thoughts and trying to formulate the words to what I wanted to write. Like a pin popping a balloon, her voice ruined my concentration. “Excuse me,” She said, “Are you writing a book?” I replied, “No,” half irritated, half humored at the the thought that I could do such a thing. “I’m just journaling.” I said with a plastered-on smile in an attempt to show that I wanted to be left alone. “Oh, okay” She said.
Some time had passed and we were now in the air. I was now reading, still keeping to myself of course. This particular book was very good and I was immersed in it. And once again, she popped my balloon of concentration. “Can I ask you what book you’re reading?”. I told her, this time in a slightly less-polite manner. I didn’t want to be rude, I just wanted to read. I told her that I was enjoying it very much and of course returned the courtesy of asking her what book she was reading. After she told me she gave a slightly awkward, “ok” and we both turned back facing forward and continued reading. Not sixty seconds later she turned towards me again and, embarrassed, said to me, “Sorry to bother you again, what is it that you like so much about this book?” I put my finger on the page I was on and closed the book momentarily while I explained specific details about the book and why I was enjoying it so much. After another awkward, “ok”, we were back to reading.
After a few minutes, she chimed back in, this time talking about the book she was reading and about how much she liked it. At this point, I placed my book in the seatback pocket in front of me. It was clear that I was not going to get any reading done whatsoever. So we talked. We talked about books, about little things, about what it is we do with our lives. She was very excited to learn that I attend Azusa Pacific University as she and her husband had just met a girl from APU just before getting on the plane. This coincidence was too much for her and she decided that she had to introduce me to her husband (who was several rows in front of us) when we landed.
After a while, I opened up and decided that I wouldn’t be rude. We talked for the majority of the plane ride. Surprisingly, it was very nice to talk to a complete stranger about my life. Explaining my life to someone who knows absolutely nothing about me proved to be a fun and somewhat theraputic experience, getting my mind off of the stressors that were filling it at the time. I really enjoyed learning about her as well. I learned Her and her husband live relatively close to me and attend a church nearby. She invited me to come along the next day to church, but I explained that unfortunately, I was playing at a different church then.
As we were exiting the plane, she very excitedly caught up with her husband, making sure not to lose me in the mess of people. As we made our way toward the baggage claim, she introduced me to her husband, explained the coincidence of me being from APU, and I began to talk to her husband. He proved to be a very kind younger man who was genuinely interested in getting to know me (just like his wife) if only for the short trip to get our bags.
When we got to the baggage claim, his brother was there to pick them up. They introduced me to him as if we had been friends for a very long time. The brother seemed very pleased to meet me. They explained that he is a minister at the Church they attend. Not trying to be rude, I explained, “I’m sorry, I need to get my bags and go, someone is picking me up.” “Well goodbye Brandon, it was very nice to meet you.” The husband said. The woman and the brother agreed and wished me well. “Yes, it was really nice to meet you as well” I said.
It was no coincidence that our bags were very delayed in arriving at the baggage claim. After a while of waiting around by myself, I saw my three new friends standing at the far end of the carousel. I went over to them and we continued to talk. As it turns out, the book I was reading on the plane that so facinated the woman, that book happens to be the brother’s favorite! Our conversation continued for perhaps another half hour until our bags arrived and we eventually disbanded, but not before exchanging phone numbers.
This whole experience was only a few hours out of my life, but I experienced something great. They were some of the kindest people I have ever met. They were genuinely interested in getting to know me. Strangely, even though I had only known them for a short while, I felt loved by them, I felt the love of Christ through them. It is the strangest thing, I cannot explain it. You may read this and think, “uh, that’s kind of weird Brandon, that doesn’t make sense” and you’d be right. It doesn’t make sense. But their simple act of getting to know me, even for a short while, made a big impact.
It is through experiences like this that I wonder why I am not more kind like that. Why can’t I open myself up to strangers and get to know them, begin to love them, as Christ would? What is holding me back? After all, isn’t that what I’m called to do? Love others?