A Special Moment at Dallas Love Field Airport

“I think one of the greatest threats to faith in our culture is busyness. It's jumping from one thing to another thing to another thing and never developing the contemplative side, the prayerful side in our lives sufficiently so that we might hear God.” – Lou Nanni, VP University of Notre Dame and frequent guest on the Everyday Faith radio show

Busyness certainly does have a way of ruling our lives.

One place where busyness is pervasive is in an airport.  And more specifically, people always seem to be in a rush in airport restrooms.  It’s the place everyone dashes into right before their plane is ready to board, or right after they deplane and are hurrying to get wherever they need to be.

Why am I talking about airport restrooms?  Because something happened in a Dallas Love Field Airport restroom last weekend that I want to share.

On the way into the men’s restroom, my husband Pete noticed a woman in her 70’s standing behind an empty wheelchair right outside the entrance to the restroom.  She had a concerned look on her face so Pete asked if there was someone in the men’s restroom who may need some help.

Without any hesitation, the woman responded, “Yes, his name is Marvin.  And he most definitely needs help.”

Upon entering the restroom, it was apparent who Marvin was – he was struggling to get to the sink to wash his hands. (As it turned out, he was the father of the woman waiting with the wheelchair outside; he was probably about 90 years old.)  Pete approached the elderly man and said, “Marvin, can I give you some help?”

Like his daughter outside, Marvin answered without hesitation, “Yes sir!” 

 photo: Roger Selverstene

It was clear Marvin had trouble walking.  He could only shuffle his feet a couple of inches with each “step”.  So Pete helped Marvin shuffle to the sink to wash his hands. As they slowly moved toward the sink, Pete noticed a Korean War Veteran cap on Marvin’s head so he asked Marvin if he had served in the Korean War.

“Yes sir! Army Ranger.  Eighth Ranger Company.  Lost my eye over there and that’s where my knee got messed up.” 

After talking a bit more about the war, Pete turned Marvin from the sink toward the door to help him slowly shuffle out. Pete knew it would take quite a while to help Marvin out of the restroom.  So Pete turned to the person behind him, a young man who couldn’t have been much more than 20 years old, and said, “You may want to go around us because this is going to take some time.”

And what happened next is what makes this story so special.

The twenty-something young man looked at Pete and Marvin and said, “No sir.  I wouldn’t feel right stepping in front of this man.” So this young man fell in line behind Pete and Marvin, only moving a couple of inches with each step. 

But that’s not all, because the line behind Marvin and Pete began to grow. In fact, by the time Pete got Marvin to his wheelchair waiting outside the restroom door, the line of men behind them grew to about 15 men. These men had noticed Marvin, his cap, and they heard the twenty-something young man say he wouldn’t feel right stepping in front of Marvin, and apparently the rest of them didn’t feel right doing so either.

But the story doesn’t end there, because it took another couple of minutes for Pete to help Marvin get settled in his wheelchair.  And once he did, Pete looked up and saw the men still waiting in line. One by one, starting with that twenty-something young man, each man approached Marvin, shook his hand and thanked him for his service.

And all of that happened in a restroom at Dallas Love Field Airport.

As Lou Nanni and so many spiritual leaders have said, busyness, which has become entrenched in our culture, is a tremendous threat to our faith.  God is all around us, but if we don’t slow down and look for Him, we will miss Him. No doubt Marvin and his daughter felt God’s presence last weekend as each of those 15 men paid tribute to Marvin.  But I have no doubt so did every one of those men.