We inched our way through the ribbon maze, checking our watches every minute, praying furiously for our connecting flight to be delayed. The older two E’s were tired of maneuvering their backpacks and wheeled carry-ons. Our arms were weary of the same, plus hefting the youngest. Finally, bags emerged from the x-ray tunnel and shoes were shoved back on feet, just as our flight was scheduled to pull away from the terminal.
Ready, set, go! Off to find the gate while Houston flaunted it’s size. Quick, quick! We know you are tired, just keep going and we’ll sit for hours once we get there. You can do it.
Then we came to the escalator.
Normally the anchor duck in our family line, keeping count of the ducklings ahead, I leapt on first. Elijah and Eliana got on a few steps behind me. The stairs began to rise. I held my breath as Elijah’s bag tottered and fell down onto him. Over-balanced by a stuffed backpack, he fell backwards onto his sister. She, likewise, toppled over onto her bag, and they all went down in a heap of domino helplessness, arms and legs flailing like a pair of up-ended turtles, all the while being carried rapidly up to the next floor. Matt bounded up to get feet and luggage wheels back in touch with the stair treads. My respiration resumed.
Then the worst.
From 20 feet above, I saw Ezekiel, just 3 years old, standing alone and unsure at the bottom, afraid to get on the moving belt. Stair after stair passed by as I barked panicked encouragement while a traffic jam of strangers looked on behind him. Get on, Buddy, get on!
Then the angel appeared.
A man gently picked him up and put him on the escalator. Up he rode, safely delivered into our arms, which were now very glad to carry him. Laughter and tears had to wait until we reached our gate. Well, the laughter did, anyway. Happy tears don’t slow you down much.
Praying hack and slash the whole way, we continued to trot the concourses and finally charged up to our gate, finding it blessedly crammed with people. Great news, our flight was delayed–a mechanical issue. They would know more in half an hour. Relief washed over us. Fatigue and full bladders chimed in, and we trundled gratefully to the restrooms. As the adrenaline faded, peaceful thoughts of contentment made way for some wondering: how long would it take to begin the last leg of our journey home? I looked at Eliana over the soap and warm water, and chuckled out another prayer, “Lord, thank you so much for delaying the flight so we could make it. Would you please speed things up now that we are here?”
Before we even reached our seats in the waiting area, God’s heartbeat of love for us sounded again. The loudspeaker announced, “Ladies and gentleman, the mechanical issue has been resolved. We will now begin boarding. . .”
“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”
Thank heaven for that.