Hope you’ve had a wonderful week. We are currently experiencing the odd duo of dense fog and a January spring — I’ve already seen multiple forsythia blooming. Yes, winter is short here in Tennessee. Thank God!
I was recently in the Atlanta airport where I get a steady stream of writing prompts. The old joke is that if you live in the South, you have to connect through Atlanta on your way anywhere, including to heaven or to hell. Pretty much. But thankfully it’s a great place to people watch, or in this case, to get clobbered by a rogue suitcase.
I got off my 5:45am flight from Chattanooga and grabbed the nearest coffee, which happened to be Seattle’s Best. It was too hot to drink and filled to the rim. The degree to which this felt calamitous illustrates my caffeine dependence. I sulked with my blazing hot coffee to the escalator. Atlanta’s terminals are connected by the “plane train” and I needed to skip over a few terminals to my next flight. I had a bag slung on my right shoulder and the coffee in my left hand. I grabbed the escalator railing and began the descent down to the train.
About half way down, I heard a loud, almost zipping sound behind me. A woman began yelling, “Watch OUT!!” Her suitcase was hurtling towards me, and I needed to do a quick analysis. Could I turn around and leap over the suitcase when it reached me? With the hot coffee and ninety-year-old knees? Clearly not. I decided that I wouldn’t even turn around. I didn’t need to see it to know it was coming. I just grabbed the railing as firmly as I could and braced myself for impact, hoping that maybe the suitcase would zoom past me on the left. No such luck.
It felt like Mike Tyson punched me in the left calf, but I did not go down, and I did not spill a drop of coffee. If I had been deaf, I may not have been holding on to the railing at all, and I certainly wouldn’t have been holding on with all my might, ready for impact. A loose grip and I probably would’ve tumbled down the escalator, burning myself with Seattle’s Best for added pleasure. I am so, so grateful I have ears to hear.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus asked his disciples: “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” 8:17b-18. Jesus also tells us that in this world we will have trouble. Do you have ears to hear? Do you have a firm grip on the railing that stabilizes, knowing that trouble is hurtling down behind you?
Most importantly, what is the railing you cling to? I hope it’s the Word of God, the community of believers, and the indwelling Spirit. We are not supposed to live like our rudderless culture, being blown about aimlessly. Instead, these beautiful words from Isaiah describe the purposeful life of the believer.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV
Heavenly Father, help me to listen, to discern, to trust and to obey, knowing the way and walking in it. And help me to cling to You every step of the way. Amen.
P.S. In the interest of full disclosure I have somehow lost control of a suitcase on an escalator before. That experience undoubtedly helped in identifying the sound. Fortunately, my rogue suitcase happened on an empty escalator.
P.S.S. I did have the mental clarity to hold on tight and to brace for impact, but that did not prevent me from screaming like an absolute lunatic. Sam would have been so, so proud. He just loves it when I do things like that!
P.S.S.S. Here is the bruise.