Last Saturday my flight from Omaha to Denver was delayed an hour, “but don’t worry,” they told us at the desk, “all flights out of Denver are on hold because of thunderstorms, so you will make your connections.” I hoped that was true, because I was scheduled for a Sung Latin Mass the next day in San Francisco, which no other priest was able to do. I struggled to remain calm, and to trust.
When we finally landed in Denver, there was not a cloud in the sky, and the flight attendant told us that in fact many of us would miss our connections. I was at the back of the plane, and had had to check my carry-on, so the chance of making my connection was slim to none. Turning on my phone, I saw that United had already re-booked me on the last flight to San Francisco that night, arriving at 1am. So I prayed a Flying Novena. Because I was almost the last one off the plane, I had time to finish the prayer before getting to the jetway, where many were waiting for their carry-ons. “Dear Lord,” I prayed, “all things are in your hands. Whatever happens, I thank you and praise you.” Of course, I was struggling to really mean that prayer, fighting down the panic that was turning my stomach into knots.
Then three things lined up. First, my bag was the first one to the jetway. Second, the monitor said that my original flight had not yet departed and I was able to race a quarter mile to its gate. Third, the nice lady at the desk was able to get me back on that flight before the door closed. Safely on the plane, I glanced once more at my phone. United had texted me that, unfortunately, my rebooked flight to San Francisco had been canceled: I would have to spend the night in Denver and rebook for the next day. I switched my phone off and chuckled as the plane lifted off for San Francisco. I would be able to celebrate all my Masses the next day after all.
I have lots of airport horror stories, and many airport miracle stories. The real miracle, though, is that we can find it within ourselves to give thanks in all circumstances. Mother Teresa, veteran of many horrors and many miracles, put this on her “business card:” The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace.” Joyful peace is the gift God wants to give to all who will find it within themselves to trust in Him. It’s not easy to trust, so we must pray. I recommend the Flying Novena, especially in airports.