Travel isn’t what it used to be. There are more rules, for one thing, and learning them can be challenging. You’re allowed to take on board a little of some things but not a lot of anything. If you go against restrictions, you can toss most of what you brought into the giant trash can next to the security guard. I’ve seen that can filled with everything from scissors and shampoos to unopened water bottles. Was it necessary for them to take my nail clipper? I doubt a terrorist could launch a significant attack with one of those. My knitting needles, which could rightfully be considered weapons, passed through security without a hitch.
After white-knuckling a drive through wild winds and sideways rain from my house to Detroit, I flew on a Buddy Pass to Atlanta. Nelson’s friend Kevin, a seasoned mechanic with Delta, took me all the way to the plane door, making sure everything went smoothly. After listening to him describe the 800 items he checks on every plane, I felt quite safe climbing aboard.
My flight from Atlanta would take me the rest of the way to Manchester, England, where children and grandchildren awaited. I spent the afternoon enjoying the international terminal there with its multi-national food court and colorful crowds. In the midst of that swirl of activity sat a grand piano and a man in a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses playing jazz. He played without stopping for nearly three hours, contributing a great deal to the festive mood of hundreds of happy travelers.
The only negatives were the language barriers. While waiting in line at Panda Express, the three women ahead of me had trouble making their lunch selections understood, as well as paying their bill. At the currency exchange nearby, another verbal skirmish took place when an explanation of the exchange rate couldn’t be comprehended.
Boarding announcements were delivered in multiple languages, and each gate’s destination was posted as a foreign land. At my gate I enjoyed listening to parents instruct their children in another language, although I didn’t recognize it and couldn’t understand their words.
All of this reminded me of the biblical Tower of Babel. Back then, every person on the earth spoke the same language. We don’t know what that was, but how nice to be able to travel yet understand everything along the way. These unified citizens decided to build a tower reaching up to heaven, which displeased God. To abort the process, he visited their building site and in one fell swoop introduced multiple languages. When people no longer understood each other, the project fell apart.
How interesting to ponder that day. In the morning, the whole work crew spoke the same language, but by afternoon, confusion reigned. Yet God was merciful in his punishment. He could have given a different language to each person so no one person would have understood another. Mercifully he gave the same language to large groups of people, who then banded together and left the tower-construction scene to begin building new societies instead.
Today our globe is populated by a wide variety of people and languages, each person precious to God. And the best news is, because he was the one who created the different languages, he’s fluent in them all. When we talk to him, he understands all of us perfectly.
”That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.” (Genesis 11:9)