A Miracle in Newark Airport

The other day I was in Newark Airport, sitting at a table in a line-up of tables that were about three inches from each other. A couple sat down next to me. The woman ordered white wine. The man ordered a beer. They decided to split a sandwich. Then they both took out their iphones and went their separate ways.

I usually keep a protective shield around myself in airports, but this day was different. For some reason I wanted to have a conversation with them, but they were very much into their own private worlds, as I usually am. When my sandwich arrived, the bun was warm, it was loaded with goodies, and I was thrilled.

"I think we picked a good place," I said to the woman whose elbow I was practically touching. "The sandwiches are fabulous!"

"Where are you headed?" she asked.

"I'm going to lead a retreat in Maine for a group of nuns and supporters."
"On what?"
"Evolutionary leadership."
"Oh, that sounds interesting. What exactly do you mean by that."

"What it means to me is this: we are all part of the evolving universe. Just as the Milky Way is expanding, supernovae are dying and being born, forests are growing, seasons are progressing, so are we, as humans, evolving right along. Our consciousness is expanding and our awareness is growing. New understandings of our power to create and destroy are coming into focus. So this retreat is a chance to improve the ways we understand and communicate that."

Now the husband puts down his iphone and enters in.

"What are you hoping to achieve?" he asks.

"That people acknowledge the power of their creativity and see it as their faith in running shoes, the visible expression of their invisible commitments. And that they learn how to harvest the events of their lives so they can use them as parables that communicate truth-their OWN truth, from their own lived experience."

"Are you with some church?"

"No, I've disinherited my church. I've ordained myself as a priest of the imagination. I believe we can be mystics and prophets without having our spiritual experience mediated by anyone else."

"But what are you up to? What's your vision?" he asks.

"That we take seriously the words, 'Anything you have seen me do, you can do, and even more.' That we stop thinking there's a God up there who's got the whole world in his hands. That we take responsibility for THIS world that is in OUR hands. And that we take care of each other, stand up for peace, stop colluding through our silence and inaction."

"WOW. That's just what we're doing," he said. "We're on our way back from a gathering of three thousand people who are committing to the same thing. We call ourselves "The Vineyard."

"Is it a church?"

"We're more a global community, a movement of people inspired by the Bible to work for good in the world," said the wife. "We're all about compassionate action, building a sense of family and community. Our hope is to transform cultures to be more loving, more peaceful, more just. Just what Jesus was talking about."

The conversation went on as we ate our sandwiches, each sentence startling me with the feeling I was with myself in the form of two other human beings. We were of one mind.

When the check came, the husband picked up mine and paid the tab for all of us. We checked our watches and it was time to board. The wife looked over and asked my name.

"Jan Phillips," I said."What's yours?"

"I'm Jan. This is Philip." she said.

We stood there stunned for a moment, then laughed. What else can you do in the face of such mystery?

Turns out they were Jan and Philip Strout. When I googled them from Maine, I could see that we were two branches of one tree, they more rooted in the orthodox and the biblical, while I am dedicated to the holiness of the NOW, to the prophetic words coming out of our own mouths. It takes all of us and I was glad to meet two other versions of myself on this journey through the light.