08 2007

On Directions

Who do you ask for directions? I had an experience last month that got me thinking.

I was returning from a visit with my friend Kathleen and I arrived early at my gate at the D/FW Airport, so I picked up breakfast from the McDonald’s in my terminal. Upon returning to my gate I noticed an empty information booth. It was perfect — no one was sitting there; it had a counter and a chair; it was near the door at my gate and it was near the main floor to the terminal. It would be a great place to enjoy my breakfast and to people-watch (or so I thought)! So I did what I normally do, I made myself at home. Placing my carry on bags underneath the booth, I took a seat and began eating my breakfast. Something funny happened. Instead of my watching people, people started watching me. Above my head was a sign that said, “information.” As folks walked by, they stopped. At first I thought, “surely they will know that I’m just at traveler, like them, stopping to eat my breakfast.” I mean come on my sausage biscuit was sitting right there next to my Starbucks. OK I love McDonalds breakfast… but Starbucks was a must! I guess they thought that I had some information they needed and they began to stop.

“Excuse me, do you know how to get to Terminal C?” As I looked up at a family of four, “Sure,” I answered. Catch the Skylink right behind this hallway and it will take you right there. It’s just two stops away and you’ll be there in no time,” I smiled.

A man came by wearing a “Life is Good” baseball cap on his head. “Say can you help me get to the extended parking? I’m having trouble remembering which bus to catch?” “Alright,” I said, “this one’s a little tough.” There was a map nearby and I said, “it might take a while, but be patient you’ll get there. The trams do come my quickly and when I’ve been away from my car for a while I have to stop and think ‘OK. now where did I leave you?’” And off he went.

A lovely retired couple came by asking how one might change a flights and leave a little later on another flight. Hmmmmm I knew they’d need a higher power. “You know what? You’ll need a gate agent to help you. I can’t do that one.” So I directed them to the nearest gate where a friendly agent quickly began to pull up their record and redirect there route home. After a while I picked up my biscuit and thought I might as well eat while I’m here. I called my friend Kathleen and I got so tickled as we laughed at how once again I had found myself in an interesting situation. I told her it was funny as I watched the family of four run off to catch the Skylink train to make their flight. They all smiled and waved at me, “hey thanks for the help.” “Have a fun trip,” I laughed. Kathleen and I giggled that I should leave while I could, before I sent someone in the wrong direction or gave out bad advice and made their trip worse.

One of my favorite movies as a child was “The Great Impostor (1961).” Tony Curtis starred in it. His character took on roles of different people. At times others thought him to be that person and they treated him as if he was. Once he was a doctor and once a warden of a prison. The funny thing is that he was good at his roles. He became who others thought of him to be. Instead of being just the impostor, he genuinely became that person and really was quite good at helping people and at making a difference. Yet he was always wondering if he would be discovered.

The role of information expert fell on me by accident and I don’t encourage pretending like someone you are not, but I felt a little bit like I was in that movie while I sat at that booth. I wondered if someone would finally see me for who I was. I was not the information lady, but someone waiting for a plane and eating my breakfast. I wondered if anyone from my flight had seen me at the booth and wondered “what in the world? What’s she doing? She can’t sit there. What information does she have that can help? There needs to be a qualified official information person in that chair.” I just smiled and thought, “you will have to tell it to the 25 people who I just helped along their way.”

I wonder how it can be that I’m the person being asked for directions when, I’m guessing much of the time. And there are moments when I think, “now I don’t have the answer for you, but I’m here with you and I can point you in a direction I’d look if I were you.”

Here’s the thing, you never know where you’ll find information about your direction and who might be the one to lead you there. God is using all of us. We are all instruments. Even if we don’t feel like we should be sitting in the information booth.

My desire is to move people and I think music is the way I’m called to do so. Sometimes it’s not just a moving of the heart or emotion, it’s more like pointing the way. How do I get from here to there? How do I get un-lost? How can I understand which way to go from here?

I have to tell you that as that family ran by, I had a moment when I thought, “this is it. This is my purpose… to help others on the way to somewhere.” I’m not sure how it works. I spend my days writing and singing songs, telling stories, taking morning walks, chatting over coffee, sharing great dinners, taking road trips, sharing music that I love with others, eating birthday cake to remember someone special, going to a water park, making and taking phone calls, making late trips to sit by a friend’s side and offering words of help and comfort. Sometimes — OK many times – it’s just about being there.

Who are you called to help? Who is your neighbor? Who is near you? Sometimes it is a proximity thing — Love God with all you heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. The best thing I had to share at that empty information booth that day was myself.

Blessings to you fellow travelers, I love you and my deepest prayer is that wherever these days lead you, that you will feel God’s loving arms around you and know as you journey that you are not alone.

Celia

PS To the guy looking for extended parking: I’m sorry if I didn’t say it at first, but you might have needed to have caught the bus on the lower level. I hope you made it to your car that day. Loved the hat. Life is good!


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