Like clockwork I boarded the plane, a routine I had grown quite accustomed to over the last few years. With my belongings in tow, I greeted the crew and made my way through first class to my seat. As I stowed my luggage and got settled, my brain was on autopilot – the present reality seemed as though it contained no particular value, a series of actions that had become commonplace through repetition. With a deep breath I pressed myself back into my seat and began to take in the surrounding passengers.
A well-dressed gentleman sat in the center of the row in front of me. Despite his comparative size, he opted to provide his petite wife with the window. This basic observation, while normally insignificant, played into my later understanding of his humble and generous heart. The man’s salty grey hair marked years of experience and wisdom. While his face remained a mystery, my vantage point was aligned with the man’s through his minimalistic reading glasses – it was as if I was seeing through his eyes. In his left hand he cradled a black iPhone, while his right index finger pressed on the screen. The heading “draft speech” gave away his current task.
The initial familiarity of the stale, recirculated airplane air, carbon copy cabin interior decorating and the blandness of my surroundings melted away, revealing how rare the moment in front of me was. There was something about the current reality that captivated me.
My eye caught the phrase “handing her over to another man.” In a split second, those words traveled through my optical nerve, flowing straight into the forefront of my mind before touching down in my heart. What was first a man glued to his phone became a treasured moment in a person’s life – a father preparing to hand his daughter over in marriage. The father was choosing the exact words to express his heart, mind and love to his precious child.
Out of respect I wanted to look away, however, I was captivated by the sacred simplicity of this moment. The scene in front of me attracted my gaze like a neodymium magnet. I could not help but be intrigued by this beautiful process – how he typed each precious word with painstaking detail, pausing, selecting, editing and reordering each word and sentence into a masterful work of prose. There was a tangible weightiness in the air. I sensed how important and difficult, yet joyful this process was.
Head and Heart
What thoughts were racing around in his head? Perhaps there were images and scenes of his little girl running through the yard as a toddler, memories of birthday celebrations and Christmas festivities, the first day of school, teaching her how to drive a car, snapping photos before senior prom or sending her off to college.
What was his heart experiencing? Was there fear in entrusting his daughter to another man, joy in welcoming a son into his family, or peace that his daughter has found the one?
A Rare Glimpse
Part of the beauty I was experiencing was marinating in the present moment without having any verbal communication, answers or insights into whether my assertions were correct. The mystery was enjoyable, even peaceful and calming.
I was honored to have a glimpse into this father’s world, a glimpse even the bride and groom would not see.