I can be a crank. A complainer. A cynic. This post is none of those things. Well, it does feature a brief episode of me freaking out. But mostly, it’s about what my friend Kyran would call cracks that let the light in. It’s what others would call blessings or miracles.
We spent the first 10 days of January in Colorado with my husband’s family. They all live in Denver, his parents and sisters and aunts and cousins, and we, along with one piece of the family who live in Utah, are the lost family members, only able to return once a year or so to a brood that spends a lot of time together.
We swam in a hot spring fed pool in 20 degree weather, steam rising off of hands lifted out into the frigid air, and icicles forming on any heads that dared to be dunked underwater and then surfaced again.
We read bedtime stories and sang “Away in a Manger” with our five-year-old niece who favored us with special attention all week– attention I didn’t particularly want when it involved her sneezing worms of snot out of her nose and looking to me for a tissue and help with the nose-blowing.
We revealed our lowlander ways as we huffed and puffed in the mountain air, me finding snow more amusing than any true Coloradoan ever would. I doubly betrayed my non-native status when I revealed my fondness for Canada geese, which I find beautiful, but are something of a nuisance out there.
We joined up with Jon’s siblings to throw their parents a 40th anniversary party. They met in youth group, married at 20, and are still going strong. I savored time in the kitchen with my sisters and mother-in-law, even when I was crying over collapsed cupcakes (who knew high altitude baking was so hard?) and receiving consoling hugs. I beamed with pride as my husband gave a wonderful toast. I chuckled as his parents tried to sing along with “One Hand, One Heart,” the song from “West Side Story” that they sang to each other at their wedding. I sang along with all the party attendees to “So Happy Together,” which is their song. I celebrated a love that birthed the love of my life.
At the end of our visit, we found ourselves waiting at an airport gate when an announcement came up asking for volunteers to give up their seats and fly the next day, in exchange for a night in a hotel and $400 vouchers for future travel. Hoping to travel to London this summer, we happily volunteered. We waited for everyone else to board, got our various paperwork, and headed off to catch a shuttle to our comped hotel. It was only after reaching the hotel that we realized that while I had the hotel and meal vouchers, the boarding passes and $800 worth of vouchers which had been handed to Jon were not with us.
Readers, if you know me at all, you probably know I did not handle this well. I stomped to the elevator, fumed in the hotel room, and called my mom to vent while Jon searched every incoming shuttle for the lost vouchers. I called the airline and, after spending about 10 minutes trying to get an actual human on the line, reached a man whose English was incomprehensible, who promptly put me on hold before even asking who I was or what I wanted. I hung up and called back, only to get someone with even less intelligible English, and the best I could make out, all I could hope was to go to the airline ticket counter and throw myself on their mercy the next morning.
By this point, Jon had returned from his futile search, and I apologized for acting like a jerk over what was a total accident. He trekked to WalMart nearby to get some necessities, as our luggage had already flown on to Little Rock without us. We ordered pizza, watched the national championship game, and got some fitful sleep.
The next morning, showered with my hair styled with hotel lotion as hair cream and a blowtorch of a hotel hair dryer, without a lick of makeup on my face, in the clothes I’d been wearing the day before and had slept in, we arrived at the airline counter, where we were informed that vouchers were as good as cash, and could not be replaced. Our faces fell as she typed on the computer and then continued…”but I’m not seeing in the computer that they were ever issued to you, so I might be able to just issue you new ones.” Our faces cheered. I said to Jon that I felt at that point I should start clapping and shouting “I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES!” to make Tinkerbell, and the magic, come back to life and help us. As the agent fidgeted with our new flight numbers and putting new paper in the printer, another agent said to her: “Is that the couple that’s flying out to Little Rock this morning who lost their boarding passes and vouchers?” It turned out someone had found our priceless paperwork and turned it in to the airline! There it was! Waiting for us! Hallelujah! We felt like the luckiest sons of guns in the Denver airport that day. Neither snow nor cranky travelers nor the TSA could dampen our spirits.
Upon our arrival back home, our friend picked us up from the airport and told us about the warming shelter that had been opened in a local church to shelter people without homes in some of the coldest wintry weather our city has had in years. Our little church was to serve breakfast in the morning, and could we help out?
Well, after a trip filled with blessings that ended in a miracle, showing up with food (what we Southerners always do in a crisis) was the least we could do to pay it forward. So, last night, I assembled breakfast casseroles while Jon baked a bazillion biscuits, and this morning we had the pleasure of serving our homeless neighbors alongside our church friends. Rarely have I ever felt so proud of my church, my Twitter community, and my city as I am seeing what has been pulled together to help our homeless neighbors, though the bulk of the credit goes to Canvas Community Church. For a city once voted the meanest city to the homeless, it’s good to see that there are cracks where the light is getting in.