“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now”.
Man I wish that was my line, but it belongs to Joni Mitchell.
But I have. Looked at clouds from both sides now, that is.
The pilot on American Flight #1484 from Indianapolis to Austin has just told me that we will be paralleling the Ohio River for some miles.
After sitting in the middle seat for several prior flights in the last couple of weeks, I am amazed that on this particular flight–the one that will follow the Ohio River–I have landed in a window seat.
Of course I know why. First, God knows I love rivers. They’re just about my favorite thing. But mostly, God needs to have a word with me. He’s always having to do that–remind me for the umpteenth jillion time about something I’ve forgotten. For this word he has me 30,000 feet in the air. He has my attention.
And the subject is perspective.
Rivers are my favorite kind of body of water. I have, in fact, lived on one for almost twenty years—not quite one-third of my life. The thing I love most about rivers is when there is this perfect meeting of temperature and moisture and the atmosphere becomes ripe for fog to settle and rest just above the water. It is the most beautiful thing to me. As I write I’m witnessing this from the air—the coolest clouds laying low hiding the river and following it as it twists and turns across land. I had never considered how it would look from above. From a different perspective.
As I boarded the plane this morning, I was ready to get home. The leaving is bittersweet, as leaving sometimes is.
My husband and I spent the weekend with our dear Oksana–who at 17 years of age came to Texas to live with us as an exchange student from Ukraine. Twenty-four now, she just received a degree in Economics from a small liberal arts school in Indiana.
Part of our celebration weekend included the wonderful blessing of meeting her closest friends–all international students themselves. All brave girls. From Bangladesh. Burma. China. Japan.
In short car rides and during receptions and over coffee, we chatted about writing. About the future. About the situation in Ukraine. About the loss of a friend. About family. About continuing education plans. About government.
We shared a meal. With all of these and one of the girl’s parents. Even with minor language barriers, our dinner was filled with humor and so much laughter. And the most delicious Strawberry and Cream dessert pizza.
We were gifted with chopsticks that have our names inscribed in them in Japanese.
We said goodbye with hugs and photographs and promises to stay in touch via Facebook. The men exchanged business cards because that is their way.
And we all walked away as friends. We all walked away.
So this is the part where I need God to give me some perspective. He knew I needed it before I did.
You see, I’m an attacher.
It doesn’t take that much time for me to do it either. It seems that sharing a meal is sort of the thing that propels me to attach. If you have ever shared a meal with me–at my home or elsewhere–you can bet I attached to you. You probably don’t even know it. You’re probably walking around out there–maybe all the way across the world from me or in a city nearby–and you don’t even realize that a piece of you is attached to my heart.
When I meet someone, I’m all in quickly. Real fast.
In many instances–like this one– it is particularly sad to me because of the likelihood that I will never sit across from these sweet faces again. It weighs on me. What might have come from a longer interaction? I begin to miss it and I don’t even really know it. But I know the POSSIBILITY of it.
This coming and going of people in and out of my life is hard for me. It is these short, but beautiful brushes with people that have caused this mysterious “blue fog” to settle in me this morning.
I am looking for some perspective. And God is giving it as I find myself in a window seat with the river draped in fog down below.
For an instant, I really do feel that I am “in the world, but not of it”. I feel like I am so faraway from conforming to it in that minute. The scripture comes.
It seems I’m hovering, rather than careening through the sky. And in that space there is clarity. And perspective. And God.
There are so many people down there, I think. So many. Moving just like that river. Hidden from me just as the fog is hiding the river. And one day all of the sudden I might see a few of them. And they will see me. We are on each other’s radar. That God intentionally orchestrates such lovely collisions of me with them, however brief, is nothing short of a gift from him.
How grateful I should be.
Every single appointment has a purpose. Every one. And a time. Some appointments last years, some last months, some last weeks, some last a few days, some last a few hours and some only a breath. But there is significance and purpose in every one of them. Sometimes we will know the purpose because it is glaringly obvious. We can see it. Sometimes we won’t have a clue what the purpose is, and when the appointment has come and gone we will wonder. Especially if you are an attacher like me. You will wonder and be a little sad in the wondering.
But then, at a most unexpected time, even 30,000 miles up in the air, little Prima’s sweet smile and giggle, a sound that I heard only for a few hours, will recall itself to me and I will thank God for the joy that comes in the remembering. I don’t know, but maybe that is the only purpose. That these brief, completely unique encounters that can never be exactly duplicated again in the history of all time–that they leave us better than we were before.
It is what God has brought to me, not what has gone away.