Friday, February 20, 2009
The First shall be Last, or Divine Justice
This week I traveled over to the Big Island with my family. We were set to stay in my Parents time share, plane tics were buddy miles, and we were humbly aware that without the generosity of others we wouldn’t be able to rent a car, enjoy a place, or get fare over to the Island. So when we realized that our plane seats were the very last ones on the plane, you know, the ones that don’t recline right next to the bathrooms, it wasn’t a big shocker to us. We’re just happy to be on the plane.
When we landed, and the plane halted at the gate, the stewardess made an unusual announcement…for some reason, we would de-plane from the rear. Being in the last row, we would be first to set foot on Hawaiian soil. (Cue Monty Python voice: A blessing! A blessing from the Lord!) I thought, amused, this is at least one parable of how sometimes the last shall be first.
As we were all standing in the aisle, waiting for the rear door to be opened, a lady pushed past us. Since we were all holding our carry on bags, the aisle was crowded, and she fairly shoved her way through my family in her haste to get to absolute rear of the plane, so that she would be the first off. Several people that she had pushed past were frowning and grumbling. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, like maybe she was late for a heart transplant, or really needed to pee. But, I won’t lie, it was still an exercise in patience for me.
So now, we were no longer going to be first to de-plane, she was. She had shoved herself forward and was now waiting, as we all were, for the plane doors to open.
And then another announcement. It turns out that, for whatever reason, the forward door in the plane would be our exit, after all. I noticed distinctly that smiles lit up on all the faces that this woman had shoved past in her haste to be first off. And now, since she was truly in the very rear, not only would she NOT be first: She would be dead last. It was as if a Hallelujah Choir began singing from the Heavens. God is real, even in the mundane.
The doors then opened, and people began to move towards the exit. But I couldn’t help noticing a leisure-ness about the process. People moved relaxed, languid. It seemed that there was a collective response against the pressure to hurry. The aloha spirit was already in full force. At least, I might have deplaned a bit slower than normal. Mostly to help the lady behind me practice patience.
I’m a pastor. It’s my job.