Frazzled and hurried to make my next flight, a routine done a thousand times it seems. This time it’s a business trip to Denver, transferring at Newark, and rushing to see if there is time for a coffee before the next gate. Thank you Jesus, for a few seconds and a cup of Java. I think Jesus would have loved coffee, but probably not as much as me.
I walked toward the outside and grabbed a discarded NY times, not confident the New Jersey air would be any less stuffy than the airport. My senses were already battling the rush and wind of noise and bustle. Outside was more of the same, there were the homeless, and panderers, and smokers, and taxis all lined up for their share of the moment.
I scanned the crowd as you should, when you are in Jersey, and sipped my coffee. I spotted what seemed to me, a homeless lady, sitting near the street. By the look on her face she was either demented or in trouble. I paused for just a moment to see what God would have me do, and in the pause, He said, “Go help her, you have what she needs”.
I love it when He does this- but not now! Well, ok now, but I sure hoped I had what she needed fast, like a dollar or something “Cause I’m gunna miss my flight to Denver”. You know how us guys are, always looking for a quick fix to a woman’s troubles.
I went to her and sat down on a small brick wall next to her. She was rubbing her hands together and looking down at the street. I asked her if she needed some help.
In Italian, eyes filled with tears she said “Me bla bla bla ya ya ya…”
Oh no! She doesn’t speak English!
I knew it was Italian as my Moms side were always yelling in this emotion packed tongue for most of my life. Sure wish I would have learned some of it right about now. I made out only a few words. Pass-a-Port-a and Italia and Engleeesh. I was in trouble. I had to decide right there, “Do I help this lady or make my flight?” I imagined the 3 stuffy executives who were to meet me in Denver and how mad they would be if someone else had to fill my place at the meeting.
“Fine, I’ll deal with the business later, right now…”
The woman thrust her ticket into my hand and stopped talking except for the word Pass-a-port-a. I noticed her flight to Italy was long gone and my attempts to let her use my cell phone and offer her a ride somewhere was met with more Italian and hopelessness. I got the impression that she was alone in the States and had nobody to call. She was wearing mostly black so I assumed she was here for a funeral and now on her way home.
Apparently, she lost her passport and was searching-wandering all day with no one to help her. I said, “Ok God, how can I have what she needs since she doesn’t need food or a ride?” I looked down at my free newspaper and sticking out was a little red book. I thought “NO WAY!” I peeked inside to see. Stuck to the inside of the paper by some really gross half chewed caramel, was a passport! But there was no way it was hers was it? I pulled it out and opened it to see my new friend’s face in a much happier pose.
She looked at me, and I looked at her, and it, and we both were sure a miracle just happened. I am sure the shocked look on my face was enough to let her know I was not an Old-Lady Passport stealer.
She hugged me like I was an angel or her long lost grandson. I was crying she was crying and we both walked to the ticket counter to get her a new flight. As we got her ticket in hand, I was pleased to hear, my flight being announced as “now boarding”. Apparently, there was a 30 minute delay. I never missed the flight.
I don’t remember the business trip, but I do remember my new Italian Grandma. I bet I’ll be able to talk to her in heaven.
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