by DanWolgemuth on July 13, 2007

This morning I was on a very early Southwest flight out of Denver, and fortunately, I was in the “A” line for seat selection. This is critical to ensure an appropriate aisle seat with adequate overhead bin space. A small group of “Pre-Boards” had filed into the Boeing 737 and it was now my turn to walk the aisle, evaluate the situation, and to process the available options, selecting the one that most appropriately suited my requirements for the two hours to Chicago Midway Airport.

The criteria is simple; as far forward as possible in an aisle seat. “Perfect,” I thought, “Lots of options available.” I looked at a completely vacant row 6, a partially vacant row 7 and tossed my suitcase above and quickly surveyed the landscape one more time. It was then that my eyes caught a family in row 8. A mother in the window seat, a baby in her lap, and her small child in the middle seat. At the same time that warning flags went up, “Clear the area, clear the area!” so did a powerful and irresistible urge to simply drop into the seat next to the four-year-old girl. And I did just that. I quickly glanced back through the plane and realized that I had just done something completely illogical, especially for me. I had invited interruption, but I couldn’t move, I didn’t want to move.

Instantly Zion introduced herself. She talked with familiarity, warmth and abandon. I would periodically glance at her mother to invite interpretation of the unmistakable childish babble, but spontaneously a friendship was born.

I heard about a Daddy in the Army, Nana in Chicago, baby sister, Zena, napping in her mother’s arms. I had a play by play of the apple juice in her glass, and yes, even without a word, her eyes welcomed my engagement, my interest, my seat selection.

Two hours later Zion asked me if I would come to her birthday party, it was only eleven months away. She must know my schedule, and I probably should have given her June Thompson’s email address, because this little girl did something for me.

She was disarming, bold, unafraid, and sweet. The few moments I did catch an airplane nap I woke to a pair of deep brown eyes peering into my face; into my soul.

I’m reading through the four Gospels this month. Today, mid-flight from Denver to Chicago, I was journeying through Mark 10.

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Enough said.

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