The Prelude – by Glace
I’ve travelled incessantly since the late 1990s, both nationally and internationally. I belong to lots of frequent flyer clubs, signed up for TSA’s Global Entry program which whisks travelers through amazingly short lines after a background investigation has been done on you. I know how to get through an airport like a good running back knows how to run through a defensive line. I view getting to the gate like a rock climber views a boulder to be a problem to be solved in the minimum number of moves.
Yesterday was a different. It was a mess.
Before the travel day was over, I’d miss a connecting flight to Madrid, get re-routed to London, wait seven hours at the airport for an old friend to arrive and miss him by 15 minutes, take a bus that left Madrid at midnight and arrived in Burgos at 0300, walk from the bus station to my hotel through cold and deserted streets of Burgos and stumble into my hotel at 0315.
Wired, I couldn’t sleep. And when I eventually did, I woke up late and missed my 1030 bus to Sagahun. My cell phone was nearly dead because I hadn’t counted on using it so much to find out where everyone was and did not bring my international power adapter. I eventually bought the adapter and walked straight to the Gothic Cathedral to process why this trip had started off so wrongly.
I was in a strange place—travelling incompetently.
It was not a joy. It was difficult and I had no control over getting from point A (East Coast of the U.S.) to point B (Spain). First, I received an alert from United Airlines telling me my flight was one hour late due to “air traffic volume”. So I got to the airport one hour later than planned. Then, the gate agent advised me that the pilot wanted to leave early. I wasn’t sure if I’d make my flight. As it turned out, that would be the least of my problems.
Fortunately, I was only carrying my 17 pound and 8 ounce backpack and a sealed box with my trekking poles in it. I asked the TSA agent at security if I could take the sealed box on board with me. She didn’t know and called her boss. He showed up and said I would have to check them through the poles.
I couldn’t, because the connection to Madrid was so tight I knew the poles wouldn’t make it to Spain with me and could come hours later. I didn’t want to wait hours for some trekking poles, so I quickly handed off the poles to my wife who was there in case TSA made that unfortunate call.
I became rattled—a rare phenomenon. I didn’t even hug my wife goodbye, rather, I turned quickly for the gate wondering if the flight had already left. I went through the expedited pre-check line and raced to my gate. Once there, I did the obligatory “law enforcement self check” which is to say I physically patted myself down to ensure I had my 1) cell phone 2) iPod and 3) work Blackberry.
I had none of those items since I had left them at security.
I rushed back and found a nice TSA agent still carrying my electronics in the plastic bin. He had a big grin on his face and told me he recognized me from my Machu Picchu photo on my iPod. My travels, it turns out, helped me out.
After thanking him profusely, I crept back to the gate, sensing this would be a different kind of trip. My travel proficiency would be a mirage, my protocols useless and my standard operating procedures a joke.
As I slowly walked through the Burgos Cathedral, the thought, the word, the image burned in my mind was one word. Opposition. The enemy, it was clear, did not want me on this trip. Ephesians Chapter 6 makes it clear that “we are not fighting against flesh and blood”. I knew that at the intellectual level but had not experienced that type of opposition in a long time.
That begs the question, why didn’t the enemy want me on this trip? Was it because I might have a life-changing experience? Was it because one of the younger guys I was mentoring might receive some life-changing bit of advice from me that would advance the Kingdom of God?
I don’t know. I’ll likely find out over the next two weeks.