(This was written offline while waiting at the airport in Toronto and during the flight. Time in Paris would almost seem "wasted" blogging, so I'll have to do it after the fact, perhaps on the train Friday.)
No doubt my sleep-deprived state has something to do with it, but I'm at Toronto Pearson Airport, at the (hopefully) tail end of a four-hour delay, and I can't help but be caught up in what a miracle this all is. It's a miracle that we would gather in peace in an airport such as this to eat and drink and laugh and check Facebook and all the other mundane things of life. It's a miracle that though I plan to visit churches, my trip doesn't need to be justified as a pilgrimage or state trip. I can go merely as a commoner, having paid perhaps a week's pay for my passage.
While it has occurred to me that I am never quite the same when I return from these European trips (this is now the tenth) as I was when I left. However, this is by no means a major life change, as a trans-Atlantic trip likely would have been just a century ago. I'll be back at work Wednesday of next week, and all of this will have gone into kind of a safety deposit box in my consciousness, to be opened on too few occasions--given the happiness with my job, family and girlfriend in Wisconsin. Indeed, one of the reasons I'm so thrilled with today is having discovered this almost-European city that's 55 air minutes from Milwaukee.
Somehow, the safety deposit box gets removed from the vault when my senses detect that I'm no longer in the United States of America. I wonder what clues my senses in. I've been thinking about it all day--is it the density? The lack of annoying digital LED billboards? The aesthetically pleasing proportions of the buildings (admittedly, fewer single-family homes in a country with a different definition of "standard of living"). These reflections have made this four-hour delay the most bearable ever. Think of people being sent against their will by the government to some godforsaken country--we don't do it anymore in the USA and arguably wouldn't unless something truly calamitous happened.
Why? I'd argue capitalism, and therein lies my response to the sentiments expressed by Michael Moore in his film _Capitalism: A Love Story_. It simply wouldn't do to have the future middle-class and more upscale Americans contemplate the possibility of being sent abroad to shoot guns or throw grenades. That would _fuckin' suck_. To think that my maternal Grandfather might have narrowly escaped the call to go join some pile of human carnage, albeit it as part of an almost inifinitely noble effort. I'm free to feel inconvenienced by a four-hour delay--which is precisely why I don't. I don't have to wonder about what some king or emperor has in store for me. I wonder what God has in store for me, but that's because I would be considered particularly religious.
Earlier, I spent a half-hour or so in meditation at the airport chapel. It was tucked away in a remote corner of the Arrivals area, likely some of the least prized real estate. I thought to myself that it was a shame that we've put God in the broom closet (as if we could!). Too bad that faith, too often, fails to see this place of human interaction as the miracle it is. My fervent hope and prayer is that after millenia of carnage, God would lift the curse on our Tower of Babel-like efforts towards human interconnectedness. Amen!