Sunday, March 12, 2006

Flying in the Same Direction

Paris was a lot on my mind over the weekend, thoughts of the ease at which the big city seems to work, millions of people coming and going in the metro, the streets, the museums, the monuments, the roundabouts, all of it dependent on people generally following the rules. People didn't make trouble. They might honk at each other on the streets or shove a little in the metro stations, but they didn't threaten one another, and the night streets didn't seem dangerous--no rowdy gangs staggering along drunk. The only loud drunks I saw was a group of American girls in prom dresses, their arms bare on the cold night, staggering arm in arm through the night. They looked like trouble, but they were an anomaly.

It was that way on the plane ride home, too, pretty much everyone staying in line getting on and off, keeping quiet when most were sleeping on the long flight, waiting patiently at the toilets, and speaking in low tones. One Romanian woman, during the final taxi before we arrived at the gate, quickly unbuckled her seat belt and rose to get her bags ready, but she was the only one, and when she looked around and saw she was alone, she followed the directions of the flight attendant and sat back down.

Today I thought of all this again while in church, all of us in our pews trying to keep on the same path, point ourselves in the same direction. I thought of it too driving along a slippery road in the snow, with other drivers taking caution for themselves and others. It takes someone to lead us in these endeavors, but it also takes a commitment to the societies that we live in, a belief that having our own way about things has to take a back seat to making things work for everyone. It might be eleven million people making the metro work, or it might be a few cars creeping along a snowy road, but we follow the rules set down because the rules make things work.

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