Reports From the Travelling Circus

(July 13, 2014) – My friends know that I bear a curse.  Often the first words out of their mouths are “Any trouble this time?”.  And then they laugh.

You see, I have a travelling curse.

It’s been going on for years now.  I get delayed, bumped and re-routed.  If there is any bad weather in the area it will lodge between me and my destination.  The curse operates pretty much everywhere but it does have two primary loci – Philadelphia and Denver.  If my travels take me through either of those locations I am guaranteed to have some kind of an adventure.

I’ve learned a certain zen like calm about it all.

It’s either that or I just stopped worrying about it.  Pretty much the same thing, I think.

So today I am travelling home from the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE), a once every three years gathering of teens from all around the Episcopal Church.  As I have done several times in the past I was serving as a member of the team running the event.

Did I mention that this year’s EYE was being held IN Philadelphia?

(That’s called foreshadowing.  Pretty spiffy little writing trick there.  You should be impressed)

The trip into Philly went without any significant trouble at all.  That should have warned me.

There was some kerfluffle about just how I was supposed to get from the Villanova University campus to the airport on departure day.  That’s not really surprising as a thousand people have to be moved off the campus in a matter of 12 hours.  Planes, trains, buses, private automobiles.  They all have to be coordinated, loaded and leave, preferably without leaving anyone behind.  Since I was something of a supernumerary I was going to fit in where I could.  Between midnight and noon that plan changed five times.  It was frustrating but was really only a tiny quiver in the energy of the travel universe.

A tiny quiver of WARNING.  (FORESHADOWING!!!!)

I got to the airport with plenty of time to check-in, go through security, grab a leisurely lunch and make it to the departure gate.

Almost immediately there came an announcement that the plane was over booked and needed 4 volunteers to take a later flight.  Since I’m not in a huge hurry today (and after consulting my lady wife) I went up to volunteer.  A moment later it was all set.

Then something curious happened.  There were three young people seated just a row away from me in the waiting area.  A young woman who looked to be in her late teens/early 20s, a tall young man of high school age and an elementary aged little brother.  As I got back to my seat I saw the two older young people exchange a quick word of what was obviously very good news.  Then all three of them turned toward me, looked right at me and said “Thank You!”

The only logical response was  “What did I do?”

Turns out these three siblings had missed an earlier flight and it didn’t look like all three of them could fly home on the same flight.  With me volunteering a seat opened up and they would be able to travel together.

As a youth minister, the fact that I could help them out, even inadvertently, was the greatest gift I could have received at that moment.  It felt really, really wonderful to see the joy on their face.  All three of them thanked me and I told them I couldn’t be happier to have been able to help.

I even thought “Maybe the curse has been broken”.

Never disrespect a curse.  Never tempt one.

In a matter of minutes my cell phone rang to tell me that the 5:30 flight I had been bumped to was now delayed to 6:05.  Then the original flight was delayed (there was a small chance they might have gotten me on that flight if someone else hadn’t shown up), followed almost immediately by the flight being cancelled.

So now I’ll be here till at least 6 o’clock.

The travelling circus rolls on.

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