One last airport story. I saved the best for last.
Some 20 years ago I had dreamed up a homemade writers’ retreat for me and three writer-wanna-be friends. It took some juggling to leave my four children and husband for three nights and I was anticipating a good time.
A friend drove me to the Cochabamba airport for my 30 minute flight. She came in the airport with me so we could take advantage of my wait time to catch up. She accompanied me to the check-in, then to the waiting lounge (this was before security screenings) and even stood in the long boarding line with me. The plane was late, but that was typical, so I wasn’t worried.
But . . .
I was in the wrong line.
My flight to Sucre had taken off earlier.
How stupid of me, chatting away, missing my plane.
It was maddening because the next flight to Sucre was three days later.
I talked to an agent, who suggested I fly north to LaPaz where I could catch a flight to Sucre, south of Coch. I booked it, went home to my surprised family, and the next day – a long day – I arrived at the retreat. And it was a good time.
Then . . .
The day of my return flight there was a storm; no planes could land in high altitude Sucre. I found out there would be a special Cochabamba flight the next day.
So . . .
The next morning, I was in that little airport early.
I watched a small plane land. I saw the stairway pushed up to the plane door. The door opened. With my boarding pass in hand, I waited for the announcement.
Never saw anyone line up.
No passengers went out on the tarmac.
Then I saw the plane door close and the stairs rolled away.
“Wait!” I told the attendant at the door. “That’s my plane! I need to get on that plane!”
She said it was too late.
What? I missed my flight twice?
This was not funny.
When would the next flight to Coch be? Tomorrow? The next day? The ticket agent didn’t know.
I felt so stupid.
Two days later, I made it home.
My trip was done but, for years, that diabolical statement “I am so stupid” returned regularly to my mind and mouth, seriously jerking and discouraging my heart over and over.
Until . . .
Maybe ten years later, in a class on healing prayer, several memories came to mind, heavy memories like this airport story, stinging with shame rooted in the common theme: “I am so stupid.”
During that prayer time, instantly, I was freed.
Because . . .
Jesus gave me His eyes.
His eyes of acceptance for a young mom who was doing the best she could.
His eyes of compassion for a foreigner who was often confused because of language.
His eyes of forgiveness for a repentant child who clutches and keeps lies.
Jesus gave me peace, and the ability to accept and forgive myself and the strength to break that habitual lie.
Missing two flights, feeling stupid and ashamed in two airports, is now — because of Jesus — my best airport story.