I’m not sure if only women do it, but many share my penchant for people-watching. It’s especially fun in public spaces like museums, theme parks and beaches. The variety is endless, no two alike, and guessing about their biographies captivates me. I have all I can do not to stop them to ask questions, wanting to confirm or debunk my assumptions.
An airport is another prime spot to watch, packed with colorful people both rushing and waiting. Nate and I did a fair amount of flying, and on one trip we sat behind a couple who bickered all the way from Chicago to Mexico. As we all left the plane, the woman strode off indignantly, putting quick distance between her and her husband. When he saw that, he shouted after her. “Oh right, now you go and commit the crime of walking ahead! You know how I hate that!”
Ever after, if Nate or I saw a couple walking one ahead of the other, we’d lock eyes and say, “The crime of walking ahead,” and then share a laugh.
Today I had the delightful task of collecting daughter Linnea, 3 year old Skylar, and 1 year old Micah at Chicago’s Midway Airport after their flight from Orlando. Arriving early to be sure I could help her maneuver children, a double stroller, a heavy car seat, carry-ons and multiple suitcases, I had ample opportunity to do some quality people-watching.
I kept an eye on waiting “greeters” who were scanning the crowd for their specific loved ones. As they connected, it was hugs, kisses, and exclamations of joy. Another favorite was watching military personnel dressed in full uniforms, each probably brimming with fascinating and possibly traumatic stories to tell their families. Then there were those in wheelchairs making a herculean effort to connect with others.
As I watched hundreds come and go, I thought of the ultimate in people-watchers: God.
He’s not only good at watching, he’s good at seeing. He can study the face of each person on the earth, all at once. He sees eye color, dimples, even freckles. But better than that, he doesn’t have to ask questions to get information, since he owns 100% of the details already. Superior even to that, though, is his ability to look inside: head, heart, body. And he watches all of this day and night, never taking his eyes off of us.
While I was waiting for Linnea and pondering all that, God reminded me of the most important facet of his people-watching. It has little to do with visuals and everything to do with how he feels about each passerby, loving them personally, eternally, unfailingly.
And this love is far superior to even the happiest reunion of airport passengers connecting with the ones they love. I hope they all know that.
“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” (Psalm 86:5)