If you’ve traveled at all during this holiday season, you’ve seen it: The perfect moment. In the driveway, by the baggage claim, at the curb, parents eagerly awaiting their grown children, grandchildren bouncing as they strain to catch the first glimpse of grandma through a window, sisters throwing open the front door for their brothers.
Then the delighted giggles, the emotional handshakes, the sincere bear hugs. Laughs. Questions about the flight. Offers of favorite food. Little, trivial questions made momentous by the love they embody. Children are lifted, spun, hugged. Haircuts are complimented, growth exclaimed over, paunches laughed at.
Wide smiles, hands eager to caress, arms eager to hold.
Pure delight. Pure joy. A perfect moment.
We all know how quickly it all goes sour. For some of us, we hardly make it to the kitchen before darkness sets in. Or the bickering starts with lifting a suitcase at baggage claim.
We realize that “That’s a good style on you,” “How’s work going?” and “Can I drive, Mom?” mean more, much more, than the surface meaning. And we’re not entirely wrong.
For most of us, there will be snipes, quick harsh words. For some, yelling and shouting. A few sad families will see a break, a loved one walking out the door forever. In a small number of homes, but a horrifically high number still, there will be violence.
We need look no further than our living rooms to find evidence that man is a fallen creature. How is it that we can barely stand those we so dearly love?
So which is true? Is the eager wait and the fervent hug truth? Or the slamming door and squealing car tires?
Anyone who has lost someone they loved will tell you we would do anything, pay any price, make any sacrifice for one more hello at the airport with that person. Somehow death rearranges our perspective, makes us wonder just exactly why we got so angry. Too late, of course. That’s part of the tragedy.
I think that perfect moment is what Heaven will be like: That joy, that delight, that love extended past our failures and into eternity.
God bless us, every one, on our travels. May your joys be remembered and your slights be forgotten. May love win.