Afternoon sun caresses golden all the way down the long, south-bound road. I love this highway, and would rather drive south to the small Montana airport, than north to the crazed hub of central Alberta.
Police pull over speeders, and I remember back to when a limit was finally fixed for drivers in this state. I stop to fill my tank with American-priced gas, and wipe translucent insect remains from my windshield. Road is quiet, traffic is fast, and open spaces bid the heart dance in their security.
I arrive late, and rush to the restroom, fearing an awkward moment of recognition, reunion, followed by a rude interruption from Mother Nature.
I stand at the baggage claim, searching faces, scanning heads and shapes of bodies. Maybe she too is attending her needs, or coming from the upper story.
A purple-blotch faced Grandpa glides down escalator. A dutchess-carriaged woman walks to the conveyer with glassy stride. A motorized wheelchair puts in front of me. Families cluster around baggage carts. Couples wait for missing items. Friends embrace and joke. All around me pleasant bluster swishes, but I wait, apart from the celebrations, stoic and poised.
Another flight comes in. More people, more faces, more expressions, more amusing travel outfits. But she is not there.
And I wonder if I am waiting in vain. I recall the flight time and day. I am supposed to be here, now. I don’t have her itinerary, and am too embarrassed to ask at the counter about a friend whose departure and connecting airports are unknown, and whose flight number is a mystery. I chide myself mentally.
I guess I just assumed everything would be fine. But it’s not.
One more flight, then four hours till the next arrival. Surely I won’t have to wait that long!
Finally, I turn on cell phone, accepting the fact that I’ll be charged for roam in a foreign country, and call home. She’s been delayed, and can’t come now till tomorrow night.
All this way for a delay. But I’m not going to stay 27 hours in a strange city, with nothing to do, and no need to binge a whole day at cheaper American stores. So I purchase a smoothie, buy some clothing articles for my siblings, and head home.
The next day, she calls from her plane seat. She got on a standby flight. I leave immediately, heading down the three-hour road. And joy meets me on the way.
A worship CD sets my heart delighting, and I have to remind myself not to close my eyes in praise while driving. I pull up to the border stop, and the same guard from yesterday greets me, and we laugh and balk together over this predicament.
I arrive again, the airport is quiet today. I walk up the stairs, and she is there, more beautiful than I remember, my dear friend, in the flesh.
Today, we embrace, and laugh, and talk purposeful and deep. After all, we’re operating on a day less than we planned.
And in the end, waiting wasn’t so hard, because I knew what was coming, and it was worth the wait.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the LORD more than those who watch for the morning—yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” Psalm 130: 5-7