Neighborly Mercy on an Airplane

I was recently on an airline flight, seated in my favorite spot by the window, awaiting the last-minute passengers still boarding the plane.

One of the last people on the plane was a young mother alone with her barely one-year old son. Turns out, her seat was the middle seat of my row. As she struggled to stow her things in an elusive, empty overhead compartment, our fellow seatmate seated at the aisle, rolled her eyes, remarking under her breath, “Oh, boy, is this going to be fun.” This was in obvious reference to the tiny person his mama was juggling and hushing as she scooted into her spot. This poor mama lowered her eyes with an unnecessary unspoken apology.

At this moment, I turned to her and offered, “Would you like my seat?” She hesitated, but I hurried to add, “There is more room at the window and I’m sure your son would love to peek out as the clouds drift by! It’s not easy flying with a little one alone.” A look of gratitude washed over her face as she remarked, “Yes, yes please. That would be just wonderful.

She held her little guy, nursing him as we ascended, her body now relaxing into a more comfortable space, both literally and mentally. As I had hoped she would, throughout the flight, she used the window to entertain and appease the little boy whenever he got antsy.

I was happy to have been able to be a Good Samaritan to that woman and her child that day. I aimed to treat her with the neighborly mercy Christ instructs the scholar on in the Gospel. (Luke 10:37) I won’t hide that the initial thought of giving up my favorite spot was less than appealing, but that small bit of sacrifice was every bit worth the peace I could pass on to them.

What made that encounter one of good fruit and not an opportunity missed was an openness that day to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to recognize my neighbor in need. I am not always good at this. In fact, I would say I fail nine times out of ten. It is easier to go about my own life, selfishly focused on what is best for me, failing to recognize the needs of the neighbors the Lord places in my path.

But the Lord calls us to better than this. Like the man in today’s Gospel, He calls us to be awake to the needs of our neighbor and love them in that need.

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Be awake to the needs of your neighbor today. Recognize and love them there.

Laurel Muff is a creator and appreciator of beautiful things. She resides with her husband and daughters in Northern California. You can find more about her here.

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