After I boarded my plane to Dublin, I made a number of delightful new friends quite quickly (take that homeschooled status quo). We shared stories from our past and hopes for our future. We laughed about air travel and our families, and poked fun at current events in all their ridiculousness. We acted as if we were all old chums being reunited over a casual meal. One Ireland native made pub recommendations, one mother told proudly of her husband's military service, one teenage girl talked about how her sweatshirt smelled like her boyfriend. It was lovely.
The meal was comically bad, as it always is. The movie looked interesting, but the sound was fried, so all we were able to hear was and endless stream of static. I’m sure even static will one day be picked up and glamorized by the trendsetters of the music industry, but at this moment it was a nuisance. I dozed off and on, waking each time to glance out the window, eager to see where the sky had taken us.
When we finally began to make our descent, I was able to see the wonderful Ireland countryside for the first time. The vivid greens, the rolling hills -it all felt so new and exciting. Even as we exited, I could hear the enchanting Irish accent in the announcements made overhead, and it made me quite happy.
It's important to note again that I did not travel with Zach and Sam for this trip. They were to be arriving in Dublin twenty minutes before me, and were then going to meet me at my baggage claim carousel (even though none of us were checking any baggage). My plane landed an additional 15 minutes later than scheduled, however, causing me to question the intelligence of this “plan” of ours. After a surprisingly swift customs check, I made my way to the baggage claim (or "reclaim", as they call it) area, eager to see my brothers. But see them I did not. I wandered up and down the entire baggage claim area over and over again, but could not find them. I had no phone number to call, and didn’t even know the name of the hostel that we were staying at that night, so this situation held great potential to be sticky.
I began asking different desks if they were informed of the whereabouts of the plane my brothers were traveling on, and they all assured me that their plane had landed quite a bit ago, and that everyone was long gone. I began walking around the entire airport, hoping that by some random chance I would bump into them and all would be right again. I eventually found a Delta Airline booth, and asked them if they could tell me anything. The lady told me that they couldn't disclose any personal information, but after a long pause, she reluctantly asked "Okay, what are their names?" As it turns out, Zach and Sam had missed their connecting flight in Atlanta and were going to be another six hours behind me.
So I start doing what I've now become pretty skilled at -wandering. I got myself a little sandwich, waited an hour for a small little man to finally leave the only public outlet in the entire airport, and here I sit typing, thanks to the wonderful generosity of Mr. Matt Leonard for allowing me to borrow his netbook for the duration of this trip.
I’m realizing that it's so easy to despair when an outcome or situation does not reflect the position you had hoped for yourself it would be. Inconveniences both small and large often have the power to derail us in ways that I would suspect event frighten us at times. Our inability to see the mystery and adventure that lies beneath the surface of confusion is not something we seem to readily adopt or adequately educate. And for so many of us, that confusion, over time, can build into a large mountain of crippling despair, worry, and discouragement.
As I’m sitting here, I am also reading Wendell Berry's Life Is A Miracle, and I just read:
"To give up on life is to pass beyond the possibility of change or redemption."
Later he says:
"For quite a while it has been possible for a free and thoughtful person to see that to treat life as mechanical or predictable or understandable is to reduce it. Now, almost suddenly, it is becoming clear that to reduce life to the scope of our understanding (whatever 'model' we us) is inevitably to enslave it, make property of it, and put it up for sale."
I think Edgar says it beautifully to his despairing father in King Lear:
"Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again."
May we break past the mechanical predictability that we so often strive for, and see our lives, tears, confusion, and despair in all -as the miracle that it truly is.