We take as an article of faith that God is present everywhere, and that there is that of God in each of us, but I am still always amazed at the places God shows up to remind us of this fact – and the people God sends to remind us. And one of the last places I expected God to show up was at the LA International Airport a few years ago when I was trying to make it home for Thanksgiving.
The United terminal was under construction, and jammed with humanity – one could have fainted and not hit the floor. I had just found a place to stand in a roped-off “holding pen” for my flight to Portland – there weren’t really any gates – when a woman bumped into me and said, “I’m sorry.”
I turned around and realized she was blind, with a seeing-eye dog. I asked, “Can I help you?”
She replied, “Can you help me find Gate 83? It’s so crowded I can’t tell where it is.”
I said, “Sure. If you follow me, I can show you where you need to go.”
She instructed her dog, “Follow!” and she did. In two minutes she was where she needed to be; she thanked me, and we parted.
I returned to my place in the holding pen. One of my fellow travelers, watching this, nodded appreciatively. I said, “This is a brutal place even with the gift of sight. It seemed the least I could do.”
Later, as we boarded, another woman struggled on after us with a squirming toddler in one arm and a car seat and bag in the other. My fellow traveler from the holding pen, who was seated near me, sprang to help her. He took her car seat and bag from her, carried them to her seat 20 rows farther back, and helped her get settled. Our flight attendant, who had stood by unresponsive to this woman’s plight when she boarded, was so moved by this stranger’s kindness that she began hustling to help other passengers and proceeded to give our section of the plane great service through-out the flight.
So where was God in all this? Everywhere! The blind woman in need, I realized shortly after leaving her at her gate, was God’s messenger to pull me out of my self-preoccupation and make me aware of the possibility to serve another. God also pulled my fellow traveler out of his self-preoccupation as he watched me, a stranger, do my deed, and opened his heart to the possibility of service. My neighbor seized this opportunity and, judging from his expression upon returning, he experienced the same sense of God’s presence (whether or not he would have called it that). Similarly, God worked on the flight attendant through this stranger with the same result.
The prompting of strangers is effective in awakening our own souls and, as my story reveals, it frequently sets off a “domino effect” of many strangers giving and experiencing God. It all begins with a single decision to say “Yes” to God’s promptings.
— Greg Morgan