July 26
July 26 E-mail

Departure Day

            I am not a good traveler.  You could say I am the most planted of homebodies.  Yet, for the second time, with the prayers of friends and a little alprazolam, I managed to board an airplane and cross the Atlantic to attend a conference where I would learn more about C.S. Lewis, be exposed to new ideas, and enjoy stimulating conversations with Christians from all walks of life.  Although my anxiety mounted the week leading up to take-off, I knew deep down that the trip would be worth it. 

            Airport check-in was uneventful.  My suitcase weighted 47.5 pounds.  "You won't be buying many souvenirs," the airline employee quipped.  (The weight limit per piece is 50 pounds.)  Then she suggested that on my return trip, I could check a second bag and shift some weight to it.  I'll keep that in mind.  Who knows how many books I'll find to bring home.

            As I suspected from the seating chart on the American Airlines website, there was a large group in my section of the plane.  Turned out to be members of the British Royal Navy.  Oh well, if the plane lands in the ocean, at least I'm surrounded by 20 men who know how to the swim! 

            My friend Bev as well as my husband gave me cards to open as the plane taxied down the runway.  Their messages were a both welcome distraction and an encouragement.  Bev got particularly creative.  She had one envelope to open in the airport.  Another to read while waiting for the plane to take off.  One for during the night on the plane.  And finally, a message for morning on the plane.  (There's also an envelope labeled "for the first day it rains in England."  How long until I get to open that?)  At times, I chuckled to myself, wondering what the sailor next to me thought as he saw me opening all these envelopes and reading messages written on yellow index cards.

            The line from Bev's collection that impressed me most was "bear you on the breath of dawn" (from "And He will raise you up on eagle's wings").  Since I would arrive in London about 6:20 am, it was on the breath of dawn ... the dawn of an adventure.