Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When life is a layover

My husband and I flew to Vegas a week ago for business. While we waited out our three-hour layover in Salt Lake City I yearned for the days of direct flights--especially when a young woman sat down across from us at the gate, plugged something into her ear, flipped open her laptop, and began reporting at full volume to her colleague on the line about the youth conference she had just left.

Once on the plane, the layover got still longer. With high winds in Vegas, we needed to wait an hour before heading that way.

Now it strikes me that much of my life feels like a layover: time I spend not doing anything particularly pleasant or productive. That does not mean I'm idle. But maybe you feel that way, too, when making your son's millionth peanut-butter-no-jelly sandwich, or holding for the IRS (again), or waiting for the doctor to look at your daughter's third ear infection in as many months, or driving to a dull job while wondering what you're really supposed to be doing with your talents.

Father Lasance wrote this comfort and warning to us:

"It is worthwhile now for me, --now while the brief occasion lasts--to overcome one temptation, to do one small kindness, to improve my mind by one half-hour of study, to wait in patience when there is nothing else to be done, to bear a headache, or sleeplessness, or some small pain. Life can not be filled with great deeds, nor deeds of manifest profit and advantage to oneself and mankind."*

Daily I need to remind myself that life is not like a novel or a movie, where the writer has crammed all the highlights into two hours or three hundred pages. In the span of one's life, you might get twenty good pages out of the whole thing. If you are unusually dynamic, a hundred. Even at that, though, in the day-to-day crawl, it probably won't feel like much is happening. But if we keep in mind Father Lasance's words, our spirit can be growing seven days a week, even--or especially--during the layovers.
*My Prayer Book by Father Lasance, 1908.

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