My daughter met a man at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last week who gave her a Virgin Mary medal. And perspective. “Sometimes there are miracles,” he told her.
She met George because of a flight delay. She’d had too many flight delays. This one was three-plus hours, which meant she wouldn’t be arriving home in Boston until after 1 a.m. She was not a happy camper.
To kill time, she bought a hamburger and a Coke. “If I promise not to talk, can I sit here,” she asked a woman alone at a table for four. The woman looked up and nodded. My daughter sat down and ate her hamburger in silence.
When the woman left, George replaced her. “Mind if I sit here?” he asked. Then somehow “Where are you from?” led to basketball, led to two strangers connecting.
Under normal circumstances, if a conversation about basketball then meandered into religion, my daughter would have up and fled. But nothing about this trip had been normal.
It had begun with a 24-hour delay. She got an e-mail at 4 a.m. saying that her 9 a.m. flight from Logan had been canceled and that she’d been rebooked on the same flight but for the NEXT day.
But the next day was not an option. So it was scramble time. Scramble for an earlier flight.
Scramble to reschedule appointments. Rebook. Reframe. Readjust. And she did. But then her rescheduled flight was delayed three hours. There would be no architecture tour of Chicago. No time for meet-and-greet. No fancy dinner.
She would arrive, sleep, then hit the ground running. “If I hadn’t given up Facebook for the weekend — I actually took it off my phone — I would have been online complaining. But there was nothing I could do that would change anything.”
So she went and did something she never does. She decided to get a manicure. At Logan Airport. And that’s how she met Gloria. Meeting Gloria, she said, turned the day around.
Gloria was interesting. Honest. Kind. “She talked about her life, and I talked about mine.” And the flight delay flew by.
But she didn’t think of their meeting as a miracle yet. This epiphany would come after she met George.
George is a newly minted Catholic who chose Catholicism, he told her, because of Mary. Because she isn’t a god but a human being.
“He took his Mary medal out of his wallet and gave it to me. And he talked about miracles. And I thought of big miracles, you know? A cure for cancer. A broken heart healed. World peace. All the things that do not happen.
“But then on the flight home, I suddenly began to notice all the little miracles. Like how I wouldn’t have met Gloria if my flight hadn’t been canceled. And how great the trip had been even with the delays.
“And how I wouldn’t even be aware of these things if I hadn’t met George. And I thought, maybe that was his point. Maybe if you start looking for miracles, you begin to find them.”
The next day, she e-mailed me this.
“Safe flight. Found my car and no one attacked me at 1 a.m. in the parking lot. No traffic. Milk still good in the fridge for my morning coffee. Rain so I didn’t have to water flowers. Sun in time for an outside birthday party. A friend gave me a pass to take Zumba. Scott’s boat died but his cousin was there to fix it so no one was stranded or hurt. And just now?
“It’s 1 p.m. and I have tons of work to do. And I didn’t have breakfast but I don’t really have the time or the money to waste on lunch.
“And suddenly a co-worker comes to my desk and whispers that there is extra pizza and salad in the conference room. A miracle!”
A miracle or a mind-set? Because of a medal? Or because of awareness?
Does it matter? Or is what matters not how you see all the good in life, but that you see.Beverly Beckham’s column appears every two weeks. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.