Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Learning to Love at 30,000 Feet

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Learning to Love at 30,000 Feet

Article excerpt

A Christian Science perspective.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned off the fasten- seatbelt sign, and you are now free to move about the cabin," came the familiar announcement over the airplane's intercom. I was seated behind the bulkhead with no place to stow my laptop briefcase during takeoff, except in the overhead bin.

As I got up to retrieve it, I saw it had been moved and other items piled on top of it. I also noticed the man seated behind me glaring angrily. As I began extricating my bag, he berated me. "Your briefcase crushed the suit in my garment bag," he snapped.

The memory of this event came flooding back to me as I heard about a flight attendant's extreme "meltdown" following a profanity- laced altercation with a passenger over use of an overhead bin.

That incident underscores just how trying airline travel has become for many, including flight attendants. With airlines now charging for checked baggage, carry-on space bulges with even more suitcases on wheels. It can seem remarkable that disagreements over stowage space aren't more common.

As I stood holding my laptop in the aisle on the plane, I could feel self-justification building. I knew I hadn't placed my case on top of any other bag. I thought, Who does he think he is, accusing me of something I didn't do? No one could tell there was a suit in that bag. And he should have taken better care of it in the first place. It was all I could do to hold my tongue and return to my seat.

Sitting there burning inside, I realized quickly that I could either spend an entire flight indulging feelings of self- justification and self-righteousness, or I could pray.

In that moment I humbly turned to God and asked, "Father, help me see this man the way You see him - through the eyes of divine Love." It didn't take long for me to begin to realize this man's spiritual identity, and my own, was not that of an angry traveler but a loved and loving expression of God. And I needed to let go of justifying my actions, because in doing so I was actually condemning him. …

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