Airports, Fellow Travelers, and My Imagination

I wouldn’t even begin to suggest that I am a fan of long layovers in airports, but they do
provide opportunities for certain things that I never get around to doing during my busy, day-
to-day routine. For example, I can read a whole book in one sitting. Amazingly, without the
phone ringing or the demands of schedule keeping, I can work my way from cover to cover of
those Bible study books that I intend to read but don’t find time to pick up when they rest on my
nightstand.
 
Another thing with which I occupy my time while sitting for seemingly endless hours
waiting for a connecting flight is to observe the people around me. To be honest, I actually do a
little more than observe. I imagine. Here is where my fictional entertainment enters. I watch a
young mother and her newborn and build a scenario that she is taking her baby home to meet his
grandparents for the first time. Or, I look at the gentleman who is dressed in a three-piece suit,
that has just stopped to have his shoes shined, and who continues his cell-phone conversation
while leafing through the files in his briefcase. Then, fiction takes over. He is undoubtedly a
high executive of a law firm and involved in one of the most important corporate fraud trials of
the century!
 
I must admit, that while imagining, I do a little investigating – which is a polite way to
say that I occasionally overhear conversations. Most of the time I only hear enough to send me
off into my own illusionary thoughts. Today, however, was a little different as I waited in the
Denver airport for my flight home. The seats were full and other waiting passengers were in very
close proximity. I could hardly avoid overhearing full conversations. I didn’t need to dream up
any make-believe scenarios.
 
A woman and her aged father sat to my right. They were talking about future plans
for the mother who was entering stages of dementia and needed extra care. The daughter was
tasking; the father was grieving; the family was changing. My heart and emotions were caught
up into the reality of their world. I decided to change locations so as not to intrude – even if
unnoticed – into this very real and private moment.
 
I found a vacant seat. On my left was an extended family laughing and enjoying the
company of one another. They were not trying to be private. My attention was drawn to their
joy. After a few moments, the youngest man announced that it was time for him to depart.
The good-byes began. Apparently, he was leaving his mom and dad and his aunt and uncle.
Blessings were exchanged along with well wishes for his future. The laughter ceased as silence
fell on the four adults who were watching their loved one depart. Mom was unable to restrain her
tears.
And what did I do? My eyes brimmed with tears as I identified with the emotional ache
attached to saying good-bye. It was definitely time to find a new seat. I pulled out my theology
book and pretended to become absorbed in the text. But, truth be told, I began to imagine happy
endings. I envisioned the young man becoming successful in his new world and his parents
expressing their unrestrained pride in his accomplishments. I visualized the woman and her aged
father returning to the ailing mother for a few final days of sweet fellowship. I thought of my
imminent arrival home to a joyful family reunion after almost two weeks on the road.
 
Happy endings – they are more than just fiction. They stir the heart beyond what can be
dreamed up in the imagination. Perhaps my Bible study books and my imagination are one and
the same concepts after all, because the Bible promises a very real happy ending called heaven.

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~Dr. Patti Amsden