December 20, 2020
By Rev. Allison Benfield
You would think that seeing the Swiss Alps appear in the plane window as my plane approached Zurich would invite a sense of peace and calm for this mountain-loving girl. Yet, after an eight and a half hour flight on a plane with no seatback entertainment console to distract me from worrying about my first solo trip abroad, peace was notably absent from the list of things I was feeling. All the worries about whether I would be able to navigate my way from the airport to the train station to Lucerne to the hotel became very real as we approached our landing. I had printed off and screenshotted all sorts of directions in preparation for this trip, but the fact that I was by myself made the task at hand seem very daunting. In about two hours, all of these worries would prove to be ridiculous and unfounded, but in that moment the anxiety felt very overwhelming. My soul felt like it was being tossed about on a little boat in the middle of a storm. As my fellow passengers and I exited the plane, I ended up next to a lady that had been on the opposite end of my row. We wound our way through the airport and passport control and enjoyed a good conversation. I learned that she was there on business with a confection company, and she learned that I was there to attend the Baptist World Alliance’s annual gathering. Perhaps she sensed my anxiety or perhaps the Spirit nudged her to be kind and helpful to a stranger, but she stayed with me right up until we got our bags, and then made sure to point out which way to go to get to the train station before we parted ways. Her kindness helped to soothe my initial anxiety and helped to restore peace to my soul. Later, as I sat by the lake in Lucerne and reflected on the events of the day, I realized that this kind woman, whose name I never learned, had been the presence of God to me in a moment of need. May we all be open to being the presence of God to the people around us–even the people whose names we do not know.