Early Flight… & a Providential Encounter

A bit of narrative…

Her FB status updates to the contrary, Lynn was having a bit of a rough week with the two kiddos. She had shared her frustrations with me during the week… and then on Sunday morning, called me at 5:45am simply to say “since we’re all up, you should be, too…”

I should share that I was (mostly) awake when the call came through. I had been getting up each morning at 5:30 and going for a walk through the neighborhoods of Burlingame. Although I hadn’t done so Sunday or Saturday – the allure of bed was just too much those mornings – on Friday morning I had been enjoying a walk through the morning mist, contemplating mentors, both “real” and distant (including authors such as Leonard Sweet, who I knew was also somewhere in town – and was sad that I hadn’t had the opportunity to hear him).

Okay, it was clear from the 5:45am call that Lynn’s frustrations were turning toward resentment… so I changed my plans, apologized to the friend in San Fran whose birthday I was going to share, and changed flights to the earliest I could catch out of town.

Admittedly, I felt sort of sad not to be able to share Sam’s birthday with him. The likelihood that I’ll be in San Fran immediately around his birthday again any time soon is pretty slim… But I recognized the need to be home. I had to make a choice, and although another shared I made the “right” choice, all I could think was that I had made one, neither necessarily being “right.”

(And, incidentally, without knowing that I had changed my flight Lynn was sharing with a friend that her week had been tough and, although I had offered to come home, she didn’t want to ask. The friend echoed her, “well, you shouldn’t have to…” Lynn never got the phone message that I was on the flight home, so was pleasantly surprised when after dinner the garage door came up and I came inside.)

Anyway, back to the airport. My friend and colleague Michael – with whom I had been going on afternoon walks – and I walked from the catholic retreat center (where we had been learning about Eastern Orthodox spirituality) to the BART station. We were blessed by a friendly neighbor when, discovering we had made a wrong turn, she allowed us to use her back gate to get onto the main street. And, as it so regularly did as we went walking, our conversation along the way ran the gamut of lessons learned during the week to various other topics.

We got to the airport in slightly quicker time (they have simplified the routes for weekends), checked our bags, and got through security. Waiting for another friend of ours, I took a moment to dash into the restroom. I was still feeling a bit bad about the decision to fly home early; guilt for not sharing the day with my friend, worry that Lynn would be upset (mostly about the price of the ticket change, not at my return)…

Inside the restroom I ran into… Leonard Sweet. I greeted him as we washed our hands – having him at a disadvantage, him being the celebrity author and me the unknown preacher – and we spoke for a brief moment, before both having to head out in our different directions. (Later I’d contact him again by FB, with the invitation and hope that one day we might actually be able to sit down and talk. [Don’t you have a list of folks you’d like to just visit with? Just to talk and listen. Along with Leonard, I’d love to be able to visit with Frederick Buechner or Joss Whedon, but I digress…]) I took the providential – I incorrectly identified our meeting as “ironic” in conversation with him – encounter as a good omen. The chance meeting, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise, suggested that the choice to return home early was a “good” choice, if not a “right” one….

When I returned home, Lynn was happy to see me – and surprised; her phone battery was dead and she had not received my message I was on the flight – as were the kiddos. And we all slept in a bit this morning!

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