The Airport Effect

On October 26, 2011 by Eddie

Every time I fly, I’m always struck by how incredible airports are. No matter how many times I check in and shuffle through security, I somehow am always taken back by how strange and beautiful these places are. The buildings aren’t beautiful, in fact they’re almost always dull and dreary, but the people are amazing. It is a place where thousands of people, from every corner of the globe, are found together for an instant. I find it absolutely fascinating, and somewhat encouraging.

At the security gate was a couple saying a tearful goodbye. It made me wonder why he had to go? What’s on the other side of his flight that called him away from someone who loves him so much? In the food court was a man in a military uniform eating a cup of ice cream. I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s headed home, or if he’s being deployed, and what thoughts are running through his mind as he downs his dessert. As I write this I’m sitting at the gate, looking at a businessman glued to his phone and his laptop, making some kind of semi-critical decisions that no doubt feel urgent to him. I wonder if he likes his job, if this is the life he wanted to have when he was a little boy, or if he feels trapped in the American dream like many of us… Thousands of people. Some of them extremely happy to be headed home. Some of them extremely sad to be leaving. Some of them numb from the rush of everyday life. Some of them experience their first flight, their first takeoff, their first view from 30,000 feet.

There is something deeply spiritual about all of it. For me, hidden somewhere in the experience is the reminder that the world is not about me. Every person I pass in this terminal has a story just like I do. They have a family, friends, a story, a life that they live every day. And they have the same worries, fears, joys and pains as I do. It’s easy for me to get caught up viewing life as a story in which I am the protagonist. It’s natural to do, we can only view the world through our own eyes, listen through our own ears, feel through our own skin. But moments like this shock me back into the deep reality that life is about so much more than any one of us. It is about all of us, together. It is about humanity, and ultimately it is about where we came from and where we are headed. It is a huge story, and we’re lucky to be a part of it. It’s a humbling reminder.

I think if Jesus was around today, he’d take his disciples to sit at an airport for a while. As chaotic and dingy as they are, they are a snapshot of humanity. And if you take the time to watch and listen, they can shift your perspective in the best way possible.

What about you… What places make you stop and think? What places snap you back into the bigger picture?

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