A ‘Plane’ Encounter With An Extra-ordinary Man!


As I made my way down the aisle of the airplane to my seat I spied an elderly gentlemen already seated who I immediately recognized. As I came closer to him he looked up at me and then back down seemingly not to recognize me at all. Yet, when I reached his aisle he again glanced up at me and I extended my hand and introduced myself. I said, “You might not remember me!” “Of course I do” he replied. He had been a church leader of mine for many years. He is a man of note in his professional life and certainly one in the church. He tenderly asked about my father, mother, and the rest of my family. He had known my father since he was a child. I never lived near him or associated with this man on a social basis, yet, I think I know him pretty well. He is a godly man who has lived an exemplary life. He faithfully served for decades in church assignments and I personally rubbed shoulders with him numerous times over my lifetime. Not too long ago he was released from his heavy church assignments. He is now showing some signs of age, but, then again, aren’t we all.

After our brief and hurried exchange I made my way to the back of the plane, seated myself and got ready for take-off. As I sat there I remembered how many times over the years he had paid me a compliment and the tenderness in which I saw him serve others. I know he has devoted a lifetime in the service of others.  I was left sitting there with my thoughts as the plane lifted off.

The flight was short. After landing, as I was preparing to get out of my seat, I caught a glimpse of him at the front of the plane. He was gathering his things. I’m sure no one thought much of him. He looks like most anyone. But as I sat there watching him leave, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Did anyone seated near him realize what an extra-ordinary man was in their presence? Did anyone there have any ideal of the quality of individual that they had been privileged to rub shoulders with? If they knew him like I do they would have been thrilled to spend just an hour with him. I’m sure he would have uplifted anyone that he spoke with. But do any of us really appreciate those around us who are so ‘ordinary’, but so ‘uncommon’?

I watched as he disappeared from view.  I don’t know if I will ever see that man again, perhaps…but not likely. I didn’t get the opportunity to properly thank him for the wonderful example of service, devotion, and for the Christ like manner in which I saw him treat others over the years. I’m sure he doesn’t need to hear it from me because I know he doesn’t serve for the praise of man. But, it’s not so much that he needs to hear it, as I need to say it.

So, I am left to ponder about how many people walk around me on a daily basis that are “extra-ordinary”, much like my old church leader. Perhaps, I would be best served to treat all people as if each were such. Afterall,  aren’t all of us “extra-ordinary” in our own way! I think that’s what the Savior meant when he commanded us to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. (Matthew 22:39). I think he was trying to tell us that everyone deserves to be treated as if they are special; someone of note, someone of worth. And the reality is, all of us are!


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