Or, Perhaps, Not…
There’s nothing ordinary about a South African sunset!
…I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands… (Psalm 31:14 & 15a NIV)
Some evenings we go to bed assuming the next day will be just another ordinary day, but when the sun sets the next evening, we realize something quite extraordinary marked that day—something that forever changed the way we view life. From time to time in this Listening on the Journey blog, I’ll highlight some of those seemingly ordinary days that turned out to be anything but ordinary. If you’ve experienced one of those days, I’d love to hear your story. Please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . With permission, I’ll showcase some of your less-than-ordinary stories.
One Ordinary Tuesday
For several years, my work schedule included a monthly all-staff meeting the first Tuesday of each month. That month, however, the first Tuesday followed a Monday holiday, so the meeting was moved up a week.
I arose extra early—at 3:30 a.m. in fact—as I always did when I needed to be at the airport in time to catch the 7:00 a.m. flight to Seattle. Our meeting began at 10:00 at the office located in Olympia, which is about an hour’s drive from SeaTac International Airport.
My suitcase was packed the night before, all ready to check at the Spokane airport. When I arrived in Seattle, a co-worker would pick me up; we’d be in meetings until around noon; go to lunch as a group; and meet again in the afternoon. Sometimes, I’d go to dinner with colleagues. Always, I’d fall into bed at a motel the next evening, exhausted and prepared for more meetings the following day.
When I arrived back home that next day around 8 or 8:30 p.m.—depending on what happened with my return flight—I would swear to my husband I was suffering from jet lag. Ron would chuckle, knowing no time zone had been passed. (Okay, one probably doesn’t experience jet lag from a 300 mile flight, but that’s the way I felt every month.)
I digress. Now, returning to that Tuesday. It was…
Just another ordinary business trip!
Or, perhaps not…
As my fellow travelers and I stepped onto the ramp leading into the plane that Tuesday morn, we watched the television, tuned in to CNN, just as the second tower of the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground. What in the world is going on? We wondered.
That ordinary day was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. A 21st Century day that would live in infamy.
We passengers sat on the plane that morning for over an hour. Flight attendants served us beverages. Smart phones with internet access weren’t common then, and I listened as those sitting nearby speculated about what had happened almost 3,000 miles away. Finally, the captain made the announcement. Our flight had been cancelled. We all exited the airplane.
Immediately, I called my supervisor and told her I wouldn’t make it to the meeting that day. She told me the meeting was cancelled, and I didn’t need to return to the office. She explained there was some talk that what had happened in New York City was a terrorist attack. Loyal employee that I was, I assured Jan I’d go back to the office where plenty of work awaited. My lone suitcase was waiting on the luggage carousal when I arrived a few minutes later, and I headed to the airport parking garage to get my car.
Preparing to get on to the freeway in order to drive back to the office, I listened to the radio. It was then I learned that all flights in the United States had been grounded. Planes had flown not only into the two World Trade Center towers but also into the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
There was now no doubt, the news anchor reported. These were acts of terror.
There was now no doubt in my mind as well. I wasn’t returning to work. I needed to be home with my family.
All the way home, I prayed. Even more than I needed my family that Tuesday morning, I needed my God.
It’s amazing how an ordinary day suddenly becomes redefined!
I’m grateful most days are ordinary. I like the comfort and predictability of ordinary. But, if too many of my days are only ordinary, I can become lulled into complacency. I can lose sight of what really, truly matters. I can stop appreciating that which makes the ordinary even possible.
September 11, 2001, revealed many different things to many different people. Lessons I learned from that fateful day were:
Freedom is fragile.
Faith is foundational.
Family is precious.
Friends and community are priceless.
In the near future, I’d like to unpack each of those lessons I learned on 9/11.
Until then, I’m asking God to bring extraordinary insights into your ordinary days.