The Girl on the Plane

It was a 6 am flight that I was not supposed to be on. I was tired and stuck in the middle seat of a completely booked flight. And she was tired, this obviously pregnant girl next to me, who at least had the window to lean against. Without so much as a word of greeting, we both slept the whole flight from Baltimore to Atlanta.

No, I wasn’t supposed to be on this flight.

Like a ragged group of exiles, the travelers around me that day were all changing their flights and making new plans, getting out in front of Hurricane Sandy as she growled at us, threatening to make landfall later that afternoon. I was mad and disappointed. Today I was supposed to be visiting my dearest of friends instead of sitting on this plane. It was a visit long overdue, cleverly planned in conjunction with my trip to Allume and in the cracks of her schedule. It is a friendship from the years that deserved some extra time.

But instead I sat here, heading home early. My heart was full to overflowing from spending the last 3 days with like-hearted women, exploring the art inside of us and learning to open our lives to pour them into those around us. But my heart was simultaneously disappointed with the missed opportunity to stay in Baltimore, just 2 more days.

Back on the tarmac in Atlanta, we roused ourselves, gathered bags and belongings, checked connection information, blinking and waking in the early morning light, waiting for the plane doors to open. I had only 30 minutes to make my connection – in the other terminal too. Sigh.

She comments to me she’s not sure she’ll make her connection. “Oh really? Where are you heading?” Jacksonville, she says.

Small world. I’m going to Jacksonville too.

And just like that, we were friends.

On the next flight I look up and sure enough, here she comes, taking a seat right in front of me. Small world indeed. She’s moving to Jax and heading down today to find a place to live. Any suggestions? Sure! (I like this girl.)

Two weeks later, we greet her family as they move in an apartment, only 10 minutes from us. Lightning must have struck twice because our husbands hit it off too.

And so it begins. We take them on a tour of Jacksonville, visit St. Augustine at Christmas, help them find doctors and churches, babysit their sweetheart, share dinners, give them the spare room when they are in a pinch. In short we’ve started sharing life together.

If you meet us, we’ll introduce ourselves to people with an ornery smile, “This is my friend Mary, the girl I met on a plane.”


To this day I cannot put my finger on why that worked. For the record, I do not normally connect with random people I meet, especially on planes. But that day was different. It was appointed.

Allume gave me many wonderful things last year. But the best thing it gave me was an open heart to see friendship in unlikely places.

And our growing friendship with this dear couple is one of my greatest blessings from the last year. Who knows why things go as they do? Sometimes they just do.

Today I celebrate joy in the unexpected.


Edit: What joy! Mary wrote her version of the story too. Click here to read it!


Back-and-Forward-ButtonThis post is part of my series 31 Days of Glancing Back and Leaning Forward: Personal reflections and life lessons from my year.

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It is pure joy to me knowing you are reading what I am writing. Thank you.


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5 thoughts on “The Girl on the Plane”

  1. What a beautiful story Karena! I love how God can (and will) use ordinary, unexpected people and circumstances for our good and for His glory, if only we have hearts open to see and respond. Cannot to experience the joy of the unexpected as a newbie at Allume this year! Hope to meet you in t-minus 2 days!! Blessings.

  2. What a gift! In His perfect timing and His good gifts He gave you a new friend – not to take the place of one but to soften the disappointment. How neat that she writes too! If you are going to Allume this year, I pray that He will bring more new friends and that you will be blessed by your time there!


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