Circus in the Sky

“Remember to put your mask on first.”

Final instructions to parents as the flight attendant walks down the length of the plane locating little humans. They’re not hard to find.

Just follow the screams. Or let your eyes find faces frozen in fear. That deer-in-the-headlights look belongs to parents anticipating the journey ahead. Bracing themselves for a flight of impending doom.

The flight attendant announces the departure as the plane backs away from the gate. Wearing an imaginary top hat and raising her black cane as if to say “welcome to the circus.”

Those responsible for the little humans are put in the center ring.

The rest of us taking seats as far from the noise-makers as possible. “Been there - done that,” we say to ourselves as we reach for those noise-canceling headphones.

As the elevation climbs, so does the frustration. And the impatience.

Passengers shake their heads. “Control that child.” Negative energy surrounds the struggling parent as they endure dirty looks and glances of judgment.

It was a long flight. Every seat taken. And the young toddler could not be consoled. We were all a bit rattled. How much longer? We all checked our watches. Calculating the remaining time until our arrival.

But there is always one passenger on every flight who rises above. Moves beyond the clowns and shrill sirens. One who pushes forward through the cloud of it’s not my problem and offers encouragement.

And then she emerged. Into the center ring.

A stout, older woman with graying hair and kindness in her eyes. An offer to help. “Let me take a turn. Take a minute to soothe.”

The mother broke down in tears. Her limit had been reached. Confinement in an impossible small space with a hysterical child.

The gesture was noticed. Several unfastened their seat belts. An assembly line was formed. And the little “Tasmanian Devil” would be cradled and distracted by several. Others wrapped their arms around the mother.

“No worries. We got this.”

An hour later it was silent. The tiny temper tantrum was curled up on someone’s shoulder who paced back and forth in the aisle. A little red face now still and silent in defeat. Mom was smiling and chatting with the other passengers. Gratitude shining in her eyes.

I considered the events. A witness to this 3-ring circus in the air. An important lesson was made clear.

It only takes one.

One person to be the first to stand up and reach out. One person to offer a hand. One person with an understanding heart.

It is simple kindness.

And the result is usually contagious. Opening the door for others to jump in and assist.

What kind of passenger are you?

Remember – you were once a little human. Partially responsible for your mom’s gray hair. Now you bounce your own on your lap. Or watch your own children lead the next generation into the ring.

Let’s take a deep breath. Live a higher law. Put others ahead of ourselves. And set an example of charity and patience. Maybe even become the one. And in the process become more like Him ...

One circus at a time.