Fast From Passing Judgement
On my return from a visit with the grandsons in Portland today, I spied a “wing seat” at one of the emergency exits as I was boarding a very full Southwest flight. An unpleasant old woman was sitting at the aisle. Pointing to the empty seat to her left, I asked, “Is anyone sitting there?”
She frowned and said, “Does it look like it?” …
I tried to squeeze into the row when she growled again, “Will you let me stand up?”
My hands were shaking now. I apologized then dropped my backpack on her feet. There were at least a hundred people behind me needing to find a seat. I just wanted to get out of their way.
I stuffed my coat and backpack under the seat, struggled to find my seatbelt, then dropped my iPhone, which slid out of reach. I had to get down on my hands and knees to retrieve it.
When I finally sat down, she spread her broad arms and huffed. It felt like she was marking her territory. I leaned as far as I could in the other direction and took a deep breath. I thought, It’s gonna be a long flight to Denver.
She seemed very tense as the plane took off. She ordered a mimosa from the flight attendant. I asked for a Diet Coke. She never looked in my direction or said a word. My heart skipped a beat when my arm inadvertently bumped hers.
I thought, Why are some people so grumpy?
She seemed very tense and distracted for the entire flight. Maybe she’s afraid of flying. As the plane was landing in Denver, I broke the silence and nervously asked, “Where are you headed?”
“Colorado Springs,” she said. “I live there.”
“Well, you are almost home, aren’t you?”
“Yes. I’ve been in Portland for three days. My father was in hospice care. He died last night.”
Whoa. I fought back tears and said. “I’m so sorry.”
“Thank you,” she said. “It was a good thing. He had been sick for a very long time.”
“It’s still hard losing a parent, isn’t it? My mother died six months ago. The grief has been really hard at times. She was 81. My parents married almost 63 years ago. They were 17 and 18. I was born soon after that.”
I don’t know why I told her that.
She relaxed and her voice softened, “My dad was 92. My mom will soon be 88. They were married 63 years. I was born 7 months after the wedding.” She smiled and laughed a little.
As we stood up and began to deplane, I reached out and gently touched her arm and said, “I’m a Methodist minister. I will pray for you.”
“Oh,” she said. She looked away, then turned back and said with tears in her eyes, “Thank you for remembering me.”
Lent begins tomorrow. I’ve been debating for days what I would “give up.” I think I’ll fast from passing judgment.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.