Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade, NY
As I write this I am sitting over the wing of a Detla flight heading from Buffalo to Atlanta. You’ll forgive me if this article sounds a bit snoodier than you are accustomed to from me, but remember: I’m currently above it all.
When I walked on the plane this afternoon a very lovely woman was sitting in the aisle seat in my row. She stood as the only barrier between me and my “personal time machine & at the window. I call it time travel because if I have it my way I fall asleep in one place and time and wake up in another. Well, unfortunately, Delta isn’t Burger King, and I didn’t have it my way.
The woman next to me started all of the pleasantries. We talked about our day, our travel plans, and our lives at home. Actually, it was quite a lovely conversation. That is, until the scariest thing on an airplane (not snakes) started coming for us. It was a baby! The horror, I know. We stared at it the way most people do babies on airplanes… with contempt and the strongest desire that it wouldn’t sit by us. And yet, when the woman turned to me and said, “Let’s hope this baby keeps smiling,” I was reminded of an incident months before.
You see a few months ago—our three children,—something similar happened. It wasn’t a flight to Atlanta this time, but Charleston (the Hannons have a thing for the South!). We boarded the plane the Southwest Airlines boards all its families. With all of the other families we hoped on the plane between the A and B boarding groups. As we walked down the aisle after all of the other families, the first family sat and without using our words my wife and I both look at each other with eyes that said, “Let’s not sit by that family.” A few aisles later another family sat, and my wife, Carol and I repeated our gaze. When at last we had gotten away from all of the other families we sat in a formerly quiet aisle ourselves and the strangest thing started to happen. Suddenly we notice people passing empty seats by us with a very familiar gaze. You know the one. The one that says, “Not by that family.”
Our three children were mostly good during the flight, but the point hit home. We were so worried about sitting next to that family that we didn’t realize we were that family. Jesus warned his disciples, “Do not worry about the twig in your neighbor’s eye, but the log in your own.” 30,000 feet above the sea it’s easy to think you are “above it all.” It’s easy to judge. But we are not called to worry about others. God calls us to look at ourselves.
So don’t worry about the person in the seat next to you, that family on your plane, or any of your neighbors. Instead ask, how can I be a better neighbor? What’s the twig in my eye? How can I stop being that family, and start living like God’s family today?
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.