Now Lord, it’s time to honor you with my last post reflecting on this year’s Uganda trip. I want to write about community. How does community form? Does it take time? Yes, some time. Bet even a short amount of time is sufficient if there is a common purpose between and among persons. Our community, the community that developed in the boarding lounge of the Entebbe airport, was like that.
We arrived, all of us, with the purpose of leaving Uganda and flying home. We were intoduced to each other first at the 4 security checks and, before that, climbing a hill with heavy luggage carts. But those experiences, combined with the thoroughly inept and clumsy handling of our flight check-ins, were each just brief introductions. Smiles and rolled eyes, shaking heads, and arguments with officials, made us familiar us each with the other and perhaps were foreshadowings of the developments to come.
But how could we know that we would all soon be eating together, sharing electrical outlets, sleeping together, and ultimately watching out for each other? How could we know that soon we would be endeared to each other, sharing stories, and laughter, or playing together and holding hands? We were, after all, fleeting strangers.
But now, with the advent of a shared crisis, we were exchanging emails and cell numbers. Even the pilots and crew were invited into our circle. We applauded their arrival and cheered their long awaited boarding okay.
Michael once again showed me his wonderful people skills as he became our group spokesperson, emissary, and caregiver. His temper threatened to consume him, but instead he channeled that energy into making friends with families and individuals. He told his story and they told theirs. With a 24 hour flight delay, and longer for some, there was certainly enough time. But it was more than having enough time to share a story. It was even more than listening. It was the generosity and sensitivity that surfaced in the common crisis and shared purpose. We all just wanted to get home. We were a community.
Examples of Community – Passengers on BA 62
- Single mothers and families with small children coping with the long hours of waiting and being offered helping hands from stranger caregivers.
- Little girls from different parts of the world becoming fast friends.
- Strangers, now friends, sleeping next to each other on hard airport floors.
- Card games and “wadded up paper” soccer games in the jet bridges or boarding tunnels.
- Group comaraderie and protection on packed tour buses.
- Exceptions by airport staff as passengers advocated and intervened in behalf of one another.
- Cooperative efforts, forfeited places in line.
No more “every man for himself.”
Let’s do this “all for one, and one for all” instead.