Ponderings of a Traveller

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Luke 10:27

Just recently, while traveling, this passage kept popping into my mind. I couldn’t seem to get it out of my head – just like a catchy song.

I was on my way to England via train and plane and was looking forward to seeing my family and being in England again. After living in Germany for over 40 years I am still acutely aware of the differences between the cultures of the two countries. I notice that in Germany I still have a fear of doing something wrong and getting a rebuff from someone, even after all these years in Germany! I always look forward to returning to England, to surroundings I know, people who speak the same language (in theory!) and people who, for reasons I can’t always explain, don’t cause me to jump and think, “What did I do wrong?”

In Frankfurt airport we hesitated in a lift as we were not sure we were on the right floor. We were greeted by shouts of “In or Out – What’s it to be?” An irate lady pushed past us claiming her space in the lift and not giving us much choice but to concede the answer was indeed “Out”.

At the Family Check In desk an official grew increasingly impatient at our inability to understand what she was asking us. The crunch point came when she asked if we had a yoyo? At our baffled looks she shouted: “Well you bought the stroller, didn’t you, you should know what kind it is”. Once we’d finally completed our check-in we hastily left the counter with a huge sigh of relief.

Later I watched two young Americans speaking to an airport employee. They said they didn’t know where to go and asked if she could help them. The employee had a wad of papers in her hand and said brusquely that she was very busy and had no time. The Americans politely persevered with their request, but the employee ignored them. When the employee brushed past them at high speed leaving them stranded they looked at each other in utter disbelief and despair.

Don’t get me wrong we did meet friendly, helpful people who pointed us in the right direction and gave us good and useful advice. However, the overwhelming feeling was of frustration, disbelief and anger. I did not feel any love at all for these people who I felt had been so rude to us and others.

My encounters with strangers in England were somewhat different – strangers just started chatting to us, making jokes, some apologized if we bumped into them. Somehow things felt lighter within me. It couldn’t be that people in Germany were rude and unhelpful people in England were polite and helpful – that was to simplify things too much.

So what does this verse with the words “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;” and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” mean to me I asked myself…

How about if I looked at the situations I’d experienced from a different perspective – through love, through the unconditional love God has for all people? Over the next few days I started thinking more about the people I had encountered and possible reasons for their behavior. I had interpreted their reactions as being excessive and inappropriate, but maybe they were coping with issues of their own and found themselves in situations they could, for whatever reason, not deal with at that moment in time.

Maybe the woman in the lift felt overawed by the situation of traveling alone after two years of Covid pandemic and was frightened.

Maybe the person at the Family Check-In Desk hadn’t slept well the night before, had had a difficult shift and was now really tired and ready to go home.

Maybe the employee had just heard a relative was ill and was extremely anxious and worried.

If I could see these people as human beings loved deeply by God, would this alter the sense of frustration and anger I felt at that point in time? I may not like the behavior I witnessed, but can I love them as neighbours, as God wants me to? Now, that is no easy task to see people through God’s eyes and I am certainly struggling to do so. But, I’m working in on it. One thing I can say is that I don’t feel quite so angry now. Maybe …

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