June 17, 2008

God at 35,000 Ft.

It had been a lovely weekend. I was assigned a middle seat in the back but instead I headed for exit row window seat. The plane was practically empty and I watched to see if the seat belonged to anyone. A handsome young man, bags slung over his shoulder, was the last person to enter before the door closed. Oh dear and he came right to my row. I offered to move immediately and he waved for me to stay, as he flopped into the aisle seat looking very tired. A conversation ensued and he launched into an vivid explanation of his night in a Phila hotel, a backed up toilet and the seminar he had taught.

He chattered on for quite a while and I finally asked a few questions as I drew a picture in my mind of this interesting young man. He was extremely successful, lived on South Beach and longed for the stability of a committed relationship and family. We laughed as he described his family and childhood antics. Before long we were now both leaning on the armrests facing one another like old friends. As he rambled on, I interrupted.

ME: What is your name? (Before he answered a thought came to my head-"His name is Mark")
Him: Mark Hmmm....there is something to this encounter. We talked about everything imaginable until he stopped.

HIM: Are you a therapist?
ME: Heavens NO!! (I laughed heartily)
HIM: Hmmmm...you seem like one. But you are religious?
ME: (Laughing) I hope not..but I have a strong faith. (I elaborated as he listened intently with an open heart and mind)
HIM: I can tell your soul is peaceful. You know, I live an alternative life-style(now speaking in a hushed tone as though he is whispering a secret)
ME: I know
HIM: Mothers always know (he was nodding) I didn't know how you'd feel about it, being..being so spiritual
ME: After what I just told you about my faith, what kind of person would I be if I felt differently about you?

He then launched into every bad experience he had with "religious" people. I listened sadly. When his heart had emptied, he told me about his life, his friends and his old boyfriend. I asked about his business in real estate and he explained it to me with detail. A rather get-rich-quick business, but interesting, I asked him if he thought I could do it. With a salesman type response, he heartily said I could, but I shook my head saying not.

HIM: What did your family tell you growing up? (then drawing back he asked incredulously) Does your husband beat you?
ME: (bursting out in laughter) No! He is a good, kind man.
HIM: Hmmm...must have been someone else that gave you that message...well what about you?....tell me about yourself!

I gave him a bio and he listened but stopped me.

HIM: (he was thoughtful) I am going to have to think about this. Feeling on the edge of something. I felt uneasy as he left his seat for the restroom. Upon returning, before he was fully seated Mark said:

I got it!!! Everyone opens up to you and you let them talk and talk because you are a caring person, but you really don't want to talk about yourself, you don't want anyone to know about you! Am I right?? (he asked proudly)

ME: (bursting into soft laughter, I momentarily searched the clouds and blue skies expecting the LORD Himself to be peering in at me. The moment was pregnant with truth and light that bore into my soul in the most unexpected way. Truth is of God and here he was speaking to me face to face through this beautiful gay man.) You are very right Mark.

We hugged as we parted, I promised to pray for him and thanked him profusely for speaking truth to my soul. Surely it is easier to listen or help another then to be made vulnerable and let others help me. My search for authenticity wasn't going to come very easily but I have never forgotten that day 3 yrs ago nor the truth Mark taught me about myself, nor that God will speak even at 35,000 ft in a most unexpected encounter with a stranger.

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