The Gift of Time

passengers“Your flight into Newark has been delayed four hours. Air Traffic Control issues. Too many planes and not enough space.”

What? Too many planes? Do the controllers not know how to count or is this a new version of too many passengers, not enough seats?

I’m not sure, but I am sure this is when the grumbling started. From the moaning, groaning, raised voices, and yes, cursing around me you would have thought this was the worst fate to befall each and every person now sitting in the waiting area.

“Are you sure?”

“Check with them again!”

“This is ridiculous!” came one cry after another.

When a situation is out of our control, like this one, why waste one ounce of energy getting in a stew about it? We cannot change the reality, but we can change our response to it. Over the years, I’ve developed a strategy for such situations.

#1. Pray. How often are we so rushed that we don’t take time to just sit in the presence of God? I’m not suggesting getting on our knees and making a scene, or even bowing our head. Just sitting and being, putting ourselves in God’s presence in a listening mode is all that’s needed. One of my Spiritual Directors often said, “Prayer is showing up, Elizabeth! Just show up! That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to say a thing. God will do the rest.”

#2. Work on those things you’ve been putting off that can be done via phone or online. For instance, I delayed ordering a new battery for my computer, in spite of the fact that the current one was getting hot and red lights were flashing. I know, not a good move. I realized I now had several hours to be put on hold, to end up talking to the wrong person, to figure out where the serial number was, etc. Now was the time. Do it! What a gift this delay was turning out to be!

#3. Make lists. If boredom begins to set in, make lists! Life will be much easier when we get home and are too busy to think clearly.

#4. Read. Finding a stimulating, thought-provoking book is almost up there with #1, “pray”. Buy one in a bookstore. Download one. We’ve been given a few precious hours of time. Let’s get caught up on our reading.

#5. Phone that old friend we haven’t talked to in a long time. This is balm for the weary soul and fuel for our engines. Catch up, reminisce, and make a vow to be in touch soon. Flight delays are almost inevitable these days. So the next time you’re lucky enough to fly, reach out again.

So to sum up: Pray, work, make, read, phone and

#6. Pat yourself on the back. Out of all the choices you could have made, you’ve decided to give yourself the gift of time. Give thanks, which takes us back to #1. Prayer. The beginning and the ending. The Alpha and the Omega. All we really need, regardless of where the plane does or does not take us.

And oh, I almost forgot!

#7. Write your overdue newspaper column. Your editor will be glad you did!

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