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And yet I do write

by davesandel on December 29th, 2018

And yet I do write

Saturday, December 29, 2018

And yet I do write a new commandment to you, for the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. – From 1 John 2

I’m tempted to stop there, and be bowled over by the undeniable weight of, not just mine, but the hate of the world. But John goes on: “ Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.” I have no excuse for stopping before letting the love come.

We’re called to “finish the race,” and I think mostly what that means is to move from paralyzing guilt and denial to awareness, remorse, confession and forgiveness. I have no business staying stuck. The misery of my hurt is foolishness to God, who casts all my sins and yours as far away as the east is from the west. For God’s sake! Get over it.

In the airports we traveled through on Thursday after Christmas, dozens, and then hundreds, and then thousands of us were uncomfortable, delayed, exhausted, angry … weather and crew overloads and mechanical failures made Christmas travel … very difficult.

Of course the airports in Champaign and Dallas and Austin are fascinating to people-watchers. But it’s not the same when I’m being watched too. As the hours wore on, my equanimity gradually eroded. My body ached, my brain was fuzzy, and more and more I felt caught and contained in the chaos of our traveling culture.

In 1978 Brian Eno wrote “Ambient 1: Music for Airports.” He hoped his composition would be “as ignorable as it is interesting.” Its intent was “to defuse the tense, anxious atmosphere of an airport terminal.” Say what? Brian Eno traveled at Christmas!

Scott Hahn points out that Christmas is exactly the right time to travel. Beginning with Mary and Joseph, humans have been visiting relatives at Christmas for millennia. And surely our postponements and frustrations are less visceral than riding 90 miles pregnant on a donkey.

What I noticed in myself and watching others for nine hours was how we either adapted, or we didn’t. There are few group experiences that provide opportunity like this to practice calm, to wait rather than want, to share and to listen and especially to accept.

This is a gauntlet from hell for control freaks, of which I am mostly one. The thing is, there’s no way out. You really do have to just wait, and accept, and get along as best you can. Tornadoes and hurricanes and tsunamis and earthquakes and forest fires … these are much worse.

But an airport at Christmas is something many of us experience now and then, and just as in the great natural disasters, at the airport we can learn to love. There’s really no room for selfishness or hate. They won’t stick.

So, Lord, we never need to settle for hate. It is always an intermediate step on the way to love. We are born loving and we die loving, and in between you have given us our troubled airports and many more calamitous moments, so that we can find our way back to you.

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