NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, August 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Janie B. Cheaney now on those moments in life where we are not where we think we need to be—just “in between.”
JANIE CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Everyone who travels can tell at least one nightmare travel story: The forty-odd hours I once spent getting home from Europe is a catalogue of delays, close calls, missed calls, deprivations and misunderstandings that ended with me (briefly) on the wrong plane.
From that experience, however, comes one sound recommendation: when you are stuck in an airport for several hours because of a missed connection or delayed flight, find the chapel and get a grip.
Chances are, your place of refuge will be an inter-faith sanctuary that tries to accommodate everybody. The chapel I found scheduled mass every morning, marked off a special praying area on the carpet for Muslims, and asked nothing of visitors but silence, so that fellow travelers could commune with their personal spiritual reality in peace.
But Christians left the deepest imprint on the chapel. I discovered that while paging through the prayer journal on the lectern. Most of the writers professed faith in Jesus Christ while sharing their burdens or giving thanks.
I’ve sat beside them. So have you—crammed three abreast on Boeing jets, sharing processed air and hugging our private space.
In the journal, they revealed their hearts: “Thank you, Father, for this peaceful place and this beautiful day.” “Lord, please show me if Michelle is the one for me.” “Please pray that this last visit with my dad will be special.”
Amid the heart cries and the gratitude, I found this fleeting prayer: “and bless those who are in between where they need to be.”
It’s the cry of travelers the world over—I’m here and I need to be there. But even when we’re not traveling, we’re always in between—thought and deed, doubt and assurance, heaven and earth.
All saints through the ages understand themselves to be strangers and exiles, journeying through this life toward the next. My time in the airport chapel gave me an opportunity to pause and reflect on that.
While I was still reading the prayer journal, the door opened and an airline employee entered with a guitar. He nodded to me in the wary way of strangers, then took a seat, turned his instrument and began singing praise choruses. After a moment I joined in on the ones I knew, and we met as Christians should—over words of hope in Jesus.
Soon three more employees joined us, then two other travelers. The songs gained energy and conviction, especially “This love that I have—the world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.”
At the end, before continuing on our separate ways, we took a moment to shake hands with special warmth.
Like the pilgrims of Psalm 84, “in whose heart are the highways to Zion,” we had passed through the Valley of Baca and found it a place of springs. And the very place, providentially, where we needed to be.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.