Roger stared hypnotically at the yo-yo traversing a string up, down, up, and down again, as a young boy played nearby.
A hundred or so passengers awaited the flight from Boston to Tampa that morning. Some read or slept. Others stood talking on cell phones and looking at their watches, hoping to make the appointment that would bring the next win, the next dollar, or the next relationship.
Finally, the jet pulled into the gate, its passengers deplaned, and the passengers waiting to board had begun to line up. Roger found himself talking to an attractive young woman whose red hair and deep blue eyes sent chills up and down his spine. A marine biologist, she was on her way down to the coast to do some research and a little scuba diving.
“Unfortunately there’s so much beach erosion down there”, she said.
“Too much d-development up and d-down the coast”, he stammered, feeling a little flustered.
“Absolutely!” she agreed. “I think they just build without thinking about how it affects other things.”
They chatted a bit more about high and low tides, marine life, and the rising cost of living, and the falling dollar.
Onboard the plane, the young woman took a seat next to a colleague, and Roger found himself seated next to the boy with the yo-yo. They sat silently as the plane began its taxi, lining up behind other jets, gleaming aluminum birds with great spanning wings, poised to take off.
As their jet sped down the runway, finally lifting weightlessly into the air, Roger bowed his head and silently prayed for the flight, the crew, and the passengers, lingering just for a second too long over the lovely red head several rows ahead of him.
Opening his eyes, Roger saw that the boy next to him was staring at him rather blankly. Roger noticed the I-Pod in the boy’s lap and the ear buds in his ears.
“Stoned already at only 8 years old”, mused Roger ruefully.
The woman in the seat on the other side of him, whom he judged by a glance to be in her fifties, had her eyes closed and her head rested against the seat back.
Assuming her to be asleep, Roger fiddled with a pen and some change in his pocket. He really just wanted to get up and walk around, but the seatbelt sign forbade that for the moment. The detox program he’d just left in Boston had helped take the edge off the craving, but the young youth minister still had difficulty just sitting for very long.
“First flight?” queried a soft female voice. The woman beside him was smiling gently at him. “You seem a little jittery; I just wondered if you’d flown before” she continued.
“Actually, my second,” replied the minister. The first had carried him to Boston after strong accusations of the elders had revealed to everyone what a pathetic loser he was.
He’d never married. Working so closely with so many young females had driven him to the bottle. Having started up so strong in his faith and with such high hopes, he was now down in the gutter, with nowhere else to go, wondering why God had allowed him to take this path.
The woman, Hattie McCoy, admitted that it was her first flight.
As she talked, Roger learned that Hattie had recently gone through a long, serious illness that left her drained and depressed. However, she related to the young man all the many blessings and lessons learned during that time that strengthened her faith and clarified her priorities.
“God first, family second, everything else after that,” she stated. “I love my husband and children more than ever. I’ve started walking and meeting new neighbors, and actually had a surgeon who prayed over me!”
“I truly believe that God allowed this for a reason”, she concluded.
The captain told the passengers that they were beginning their descent.
Contemplating Hattie’s story, Roger began seeing God’s hand his own situation. Remembering the alcoholics he knew were in the church, he sensed a new calling. Feeling uplifted, his own faith seemed stronger, and perhaps for the first time, more real.
Bidding Hattie good-bye as they departed the aircraft, he turned to head for the baggage claim. He spotted the red headed beauty, walking gracefully toward him.
“I’m Angela,” she said smiling, extending her delicate ringless hands to clasp his.
Her smile was warm, her eyes dancing.
“Thank You, Lord!” breathed Roger. “Hello Angela.”
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