There’s nothing like a detour when you have your mind set on going somewhere. Detours slow you down. They might frustrate you. Then again, they might afford the opportunity to see something new.
All of those came into play as Susan and I made our way to Dallas for the 2015 General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. It was bad enough that we had a 6:10 a.m. flight, but getting to the airport an hour and fifteen minutes ahead of time is usually plenty, and we were there before five with boarding passes in hand.
How were we to know the TSA would go nuts today? Perhaps stung by a recent test in which TSA workers failed to detect hidden explosives or guns 67 times out of 70, the line at Raleigh Durham airport stacked up longer than I’ve ever seen it — at least forty yards in two directions before getting to where the back and forth maze between security tapes begins. As we finally neared the entrance, a worker asked for people with TSA PreCheck, so we went over as usual: normally when one person has the PreCheck authorization, a traveling companion can go through the line with him or her.
Not so today: it was back to the long line for us.
The backup caused several folks to be late reaching the plane, so we were in no danger of missing it. More pertinently, we knew that a tropical storm was passing over Dallas, so I was skeptical that we would be allowed to take off. We left within minutes of schedule, however, and were on track for an on time landing at 8:05 a.m. so we could make it to the Baptist Women in Ministry meeting at Wilshire Baptist Church.
Alas, it was not to be. Wind gusts and heavy rain forced the Dallas Fort Worth airport to put a hold on landings not once, but several times. After circling in a holding pattern for 20 minutes, we were diverted to Little Rock, Arkansas, where we refueled and sat on the tarmac for an hour or so before being allowed to take off again.
Another hold led to more circling in the clouds, but finally we were allowed to land, with the pilot guiding us to a slightly bumpy landing while calling “Whoa, Nellie,” as he brought the plane to a stop and earned a round of applause.
Surprisingly, despite a delay of more than three hours, no one got mad that we could see or hear. Everyone was patient except for the puppy in the seat behind us. We caught a shuttle to the hotel and missed the BWIM meeting, but were there in time to help set up the Baptists Today / Nurturing Faith booth, where we’re introducing a new Bible Study Series with two books of lessons from the Psalms.
And on top of that, we got to see a little bit of Little Rock on landing and take-off, including the capitol building. The question is, can I add Arkansas to the list of states I’ve visited if I never stepped off the plane?
I’m counting it. Detours have to be worth something.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.