A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Alabama to attend the Celebration of Life for a mentor, colleague, and dear friend that recently died. To cut the cost of this last-minute trip, I chose not to pay for any amenities on my flight, including selecting my seat. As luck would have it, I was assigned a window seat, sitting next to a young mother with a toddler in her lap. To put it mildly, the first hour of the trip was utter chaos as the toddler spiraled into a complete meltdown. The kicking, screaming, and crying were epic and I couldn’t help but feeling trapped. I became aware of two emotions coursing through my heart and mind. First, gratitude for my noise-canceling headphones. Second, compassion for this mom, who tried numerous strategies to soothe her child’s distress, all of which proved to be futile.
When we reached cruising altitude, the seatbelt lights were turned off, and passengers were free to move about the cabin, this mom took her child to the mid-plane lavatory, where they disappeared for what seemed like another hour. Fellow passengers were irritated, not only because of the earlier screaming and crying, but also because they now had to use lavatories at the extremities of the plane. When the mother and child finally reemerged for the last half hour of the flight, the toddler was calm, pleasant, and delightful. While taxiing to the gate after landing, the mother looked at her precious child and announced, “When we get to grandma’s house, mommy is going to have a big glass of wine!” I leaned over and said sympathetically, “I think mommy deserves two big glasses of wine.”
Sermon preached at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Jackson MS
Before I joined the monastic community where I now live, I was a parish priest for a number of years in a small parish, on a little island, off the west coast of British Columbia. It was a wonderful place to live, right on the ocean, with snow-capped mountains in the distance. In many ways it was idyllic, and one of the churches in the parish was a picture perfect gem, and for the standards of that part of the world, being 100 years old, it was considered ancient and quaint. Indeed, for that part of British Columbia, there probably were not too many building that were older than St. Mark’s.
Because of where it was, and because of its age, people loved to be married at St. Mark’s. It was one of those places, no matter the day, no matter the season, no matter if you were inside or outside, you couldn’t take a bad photograph, so bridal couples, wedding photographers and family and friends loved to come to St. Mark’s for their wedding, and for photographs.