I’m at the airport waiting for a friend who’s arriving in JetBlue flight number 141 from Newark. Time of arrival is 5:57 p.m. I check the electronic board and it shows the flight’s on time. I go back and sit down. A man sitting with some friends behind me walks to the board, comes back, and declares with a slight tone of irritation: “I don’t know how they can say it’s on time when it was supposed to arrive at 5:57.” I check my watch. It’s 5:59. I look at the man again and I think: “there but for the grace of God.” That man was me, not that very long ago. Not that I was a little more patient now, though AA had taught me that. But that I could now see. In the larger scheme of things, a routine delay in a flight’s scheduled arrival was of absolutely no importance. Especially not after the bleak events of one perversely bright September morning such a short time ago, when four flights never arrived at all. It’s so easy to forget. Keep the memory green, we say in the rooms. It helps to keep us grateful.
[Posted 09/01/13. Image: Father Mychal Judge, first of the first responders to die on 9/11 when, as chaplain of the firehouse across the street from St. Francis Church in NYC, where he was a priest, he rushed with the firefighters down to the World Trade Center. Mychal was a recovering alcoholic and attended meetings of the St. Francis group, where this alcoholic once heard him share his experience, strength, and hope.]