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Gratitude at 35,000 Feet.

Recently, I was traveling back from Italy with my wife. We were on one of those Groupon travel deals. It was cheap and we had a blast. But a friend once told me, “If it is cheap... someone is paying the price” and this was true of our trip.

Our return flight was on Thanksgiving Day. Other than the kids letting us know we sucked as parents (because there would be no Thanksgiving dinner), I did not think much about the day. That would change on the last leg of our flight.

Settling into the four hour flight home, I became aware of all the hard working stewards and stewardesses. While I was returning from an amazing vacation, these folks clearly drew the short straw. They had the same conversations with their families as I did with my kids, but for less selfish reasons.

One older stewardess caught my eye. Missing Thanksgiving, the late hour of the flight, and the prospect of spending the next four hours serving others, would justify a cold execution of a her thankless job. Yet, her kind eyes and simple smile overshadowed her exhaustion.

As she passed, I looked up at her and with all the earnest compassion I could muster I said, “I want to thank you for working on your Thanksgiving. You are getting my wife and I home to our kids so we can spend the rest of Thanksgiving with them. I know you did not have to, but we really appreciate it.”

I was shocked at what happened next. As she removed her glasses, her posture completely changed. She began to speak and her eyes began to water. She told me that in her 40 years doing her job, she had never receive a complement like that. She thanked me for my kind words. My eyes began to water and I smiled back at her.

There at 35,000 feet a passenger and stewardess became two humans sharing a moment of gratitude. The whole exchange took less than 30 seconds, but it changed me. In those seconds, I felt the richness of the universe. I understood the fellowship that God had intended. I felt the power of gratitude.

As a Christian, I know the Lord lives in me (Galatians 2:20). The love and forgiveness, that Christ has afforded me, is “living water” and it was meant to be shared. Discipleship does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as expressing earnest appreciation for someone who quietly works to provide us with this amazing life.

Find someone who deserves your gratitude and let them know. If you have had a moment like I did, please share it in the comments.

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