Smiling into the Shadows of Life

I noticed her sitting there at Gate B3, when she told an airline employee that her son was coming to pick her up.  We were sitting at a departure gate, waiting for the plane that would carry us across the country.  I have three sons, she said, with her hand pressed to her forehead, I just can’t remember the name of the one who’s coming to get me.

The attendant asked to see her boarding pass. They dug through bags together to find the piece of paper that held information that the woman couldn’t hold in her mind.

I want to go home, she announced.  She turned to those seated near her and gestured with age-spotted hands to the crowds of people rushing past.  Do you know where all these people are going?

After the attendant looked at her computer, she nodded knowingly, and in a few minutes the pilot came out, gathering the woman and her things to put them on the plane.  She followed him like an obedient child, with no notion of where she was going.


When we landed, the pilot came to hold her hand and her bags.  He told her where she was.

I felt pity for her as she was led off of the plane in her confused state, searching for the son who might be there to get her, knowing that if he did come, she wouldn’t even know his name.

As I hurried off of the plane with the other young rushers, she sat in a wheelchair manned by her unnamed son, who did come to pick her up after all.  I heard his sigh.  Yes, mother, we’re going to get to spend a LOT of time together.  Her hands were folded neatly on top of her purse.  She was smiling.

She looked oddly beautiful sitting there, peacefully accepting her utter confusion.

And, in that moment I realized that maybe I am actually the one to be pitied.  I, the one who has a tendency to kick and scream like a temperamental toddler when God gathers me up to lead me into the unknown.  When confusion sets in.  In the where-am-I-going moments.

I want to trust God with the leading.  I’m so glad I ran into her today, peaceful smiler, looking into an unknow-able future with joy.  I hope she enjoys her time with her son, whatever his name is.

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