I’m sitting at Gate 97 in the International Terminal of San Francisco’s International Airport. It’s evening and weary travelers are staking their claim to prime seating locations — the areas with booths and plugs are going first, followed by side seats near plugs. Our electronic age demands above all that we keep our gadgets powered, at the ready for use.
I arrived this morning from Portland, Oregon. I came to speak at a conference and my time has been busy and rewarding. A group of third culture kids has once again wormed their way into my heart and I am better for it.
I have been in more airports and logged more travel hours than I can count yet travel still brings out an introspection in me — I sit and I wonder about the lives of all those I see. I wonder who they have left and who they are going to see; what tears have been spilled over hard goodbyes. I wonder what brings them to this particular flight on this day. For 13 hours we will share a space in the sky – but most of us will still leave as strangers.
We live on a lonely planet. A planet that needs tragedies to bring out the humanity in people, a planet increasingly connected even as it is increasingly divided. We sit in airports the world over, waiting for flights, passing time, tired and often lonely.
We need each other more than we know. Our DNA is wired for connection, for human companionship and intimacy. More and more, researchers are concerned about the loneliness that manifests itself in so many, a loneliness that affects our emotional and physical health.
Yes – we need each other more than we know.
An announcement comes over the intercom, alerting us that our flight will be boarding shortly.
I think of those I am leaving behind for a brief time. Those I love the most will be on a different continent for the next ten days. I am acutely aware that anything could happen. I say a silent prayer, reminded once again that I cannot live this life without God, without faith in a God who is ultimately good and merciful.
My introspection is cut off, interrupted by a young woman who asks if she can share my space and plug in her computer.
I smile and say yes, connected for a brief moment and I am grateful.