1.24.2007

Airport Lovin'!

I just got home and, believe it or not I just finished Blue Like Jazz. I have to admit, I loved it. I liked Miller's style and I like where he was coming from. But I'm not gonna get into that right now.

There’s something else that I gotta share. (I wrote what follows while I was waiting for my flight back in New York.)

I’ve been feeling convicted lately that I don’t connect with people enough in my day-to-day life. I’m not talking about friends and people I already know. It’s easy for me to connect with them. I’m talking about strangers.

I first started feeling this way when I went to the Revolution conference in Seattle with D.G. back in November. If you know, D.G., the guy is crazy. He’ll be standing next to someone at the urinal and end up getting their life story before they flush and top it all off by letting them know how much Jesus loves them.

He was like that on our trip to Seattle and it amazed me and convicted me.

Usually, when I fly somewhere I think to myself, “Sweet! I’ve got 5 hours of uninterrupted reading!!” D.G. thinks, “Sweet! 5 hours of talking to someone and making them feel loved!!”

So, as I prepared for this trip to New York, I’ve been thinking that I need to at least take some small steps to make people feel cared about in some way.

This was my plan: I would say to whoever I was sitting next to, “So, are you heading toward home or away from home.” Hey, that’s a pretty good pick-up line if you ask me! Especially considering my tendency is to start reading as soon as I sit down and hope they don’t start talking to me, robbing me of my precious reading time.

Well, that idea hasn’t worked out quite yet. On both legs of my flight to New York I was the only person in my row. But I still wanted to take some small steps to connect with people on this trip.

One of the things I did as we were waiting to take off from New York back to Cincinnati (which hasn’t yet happened—I’m back sitting in the waiting area almost four hours after my flight was supposed to leave) was to make some small talk with the flight attendant.

She was being very patient while we all sat there for an hour waiting for the strobe light on the plane to get fixed. People were frustrated, often taking it out on her. I said to her, “This is the hard part of your job, isn’t it?”

She smiled and said, “No.” Then she said, “Well, actually it is, because I don’t get paid for this time—flight time only.” I told her I thought that sucked and kept chatting for a few minutes.

After I got transferred to another airline, I went to check in and one of the employees—an elderly Indian or Pakistani man—saw the book I was reading, Blue Like Jazz. He asked if it was a book about jazz and I told him that, no, it was a book about spirituality.

At this point, I probably would have ended the conversation. But I thought to myself, I need to follow up on this. So I asked him, “Are you a jazz fan?”

He said he was.

I said I didn’t know much about jazz, but there was a neat quote in the beginning of the book about jazz. So, he came over and read it. Here’s the quote:

I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.

I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.

The man smiled as he read this and then wrote down the name of the book and the author, Donald Miller. And then he went on to tell me all about the jazz musicians he loves and which ones he’s seen in person and which ones his friend had played with. And then he had to leave.

What excites me about this encounter is not the fact that I talked to him or that I showed him the book. What excites me is that God took my wimpy, little attempt at hospitality and blessed it. This man who quite possibly subscribes to Eastern spirituality (an assumption based on a stereotype, I know...) might read this book on Christian spirituality and might encounter Jesus in it.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty awesome!