It began as a routine flight. The first-class passengers boarded first, then mothers with babies, then the row-by-row ticket holders. But amidst the shuffling of feet and the shoving of overhead gear, one first-class passenger perched on his plush seat, formulating an idea.
"Miss?" he said.
The nearest flight attendant turned to hear his request. Did he want cookies already? A pillow? A glass of champagne?
"I saw a group of soldiers standing together in the boarding area, waiting to get on this plane."
The flight attendant nodded.
"I'd like to give one of them my seat."
At that, the woman smiled. Not taking him seriously, she turned to greet the next passenger.
But the man with the idea wasn't deterred. You don't become a regular first-class flyer by waiting on other people to bring what you want. This guy was a man of action. He watched the doorway and scanned the oncomers. He didn't have to wait long before the first of the soldiers stepped onto the plane and walked his way.
"Hey, soldier -- where are you sitting?"
The young man looked down at the ticket in his hand and replied, "22E."
“Not any more, you’re not,” the first-class passenger said. “You’re sitting here.” Rising, he grabbed his Wall Street Journal, briefcase and jacket, stepped out in the aisle, and gestured for the startled soldier to take his seat.
Good deeds often multiply. Another passenger, noting the exchange from across the aisle, followed suit.
"Hey, soldier," he said to the next uniformed passenger. "Where are you sitting?"
Then another gave up his seat, and another. It wasn't long before twelve of the sixteen first-class seats were filled with soldiers. The switch only stopped when they ran out of soldiers.
I loved hearing that news story when it broke. It made me cry, if you must know the truth. We have young people from our church serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and my thoughts often turn toward them. I loved envisioning those dozen battle-weary soldiers sinking into leather seats and relaxing for most likely the first time in a long time. I loved the honor those other passengers extended to the young men and women who had been off serving -- and hurting -- on foreign soil.
A wise someone once said, "Be kind to each other. You don't know what battles each have faced that day." What a powerful admonition -- and so true. We're all in a battle of some kind or another. The person you're near right now may have endured harsh words from a loved one this morning. They may be struggling with a painful decision. They may be scarred from countless losses. They may feel defeated, worthless, weak, overwhelmed, empty. But you have the power to soothe their wounds and lift their spirits. It's not as hard as you might think to bandage a heart. Words are free. It costs nothing -- nothing -- to speak encouragement into a person, to transfer comfort, to build courage ... to change a life.
Love each other today. And find a small way to honor the soldiers in your lives. Who knows? You might just start a revolution.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. --Gal 6:10 (NIV)
Labels: mindful living