Airlines ingeniously came up with one place for a convergence of multiple airplanes and then send them forth to their respective destinations. Travelers don’t care for it much but it enabled airlines to reduce direct routes and then redirect to the traveler’s final destination.
Now. Replace “airlines” with “Christian religions” and you have the beginning of something big. Most Christian churches honor a week of “Christian Unity,” the last week of January each year. (Catholics believe that this week of prayer will make everyone Catholic as I’m sure the Lutherans do.) But that’s not the point. The point is the convergence. You’ll love the biological definition of convergence, “the tendency of unrelated animals and plants to evolve superficially similar characteristics under similar environmental conditions.” (We’re the animals, by the way, and the plants is what’s been cemented in our religiously rigid minds since the beginning of religion.)
I’ve grown to love the Atlanta hub. It’s always hubbing with hordes of folks departing one plane and hurrying to find the next only to end up bored with the endless waiting for their next flight. I love absorbing the hurried hustle and short swings to avoid the cart carrying the older adult and I’m wondering how I can get a cart like that.
And I love C18 which is one of the few places to smoke between flights. You don’t even need to light your own, just walk inside and inhale. In this room of folks waiting for this moment for the past hour or two hours or even four hours captures the Christian spirit. (Catholics and Episcopalians would call it incense, but that’s just us.) It’s uncomfortable at first because she may think I’m about to steal her purse (I guess I have that look). Slowly, a common thing is discussed and the door is now open. “What about this Virgin forever stuff,” may be a question.” I’d come back with, “What about this ‘justification by faith alone’ that you guys hold on to so tightly?” She’d replied, “So everything the pope says is infallible?” followed by my “We don’t kneel as often as you may think, especially when you get older.”
That’s the biological “superficial” stuff but it’s the “characteristics” and “environmental conditions” that lead us to a deeper conversation. I’d tell her that if I were born Lutheran, I’d be a good Lutheran today and she suspiciously looks at me as though I’m mocking her. “Wouldn’t you be a good Catholic today if your parents were…” She doesn’t answer but I know her answer.
Many “mixed religions” as they’re called in marriage sometimes ends up with, “Well, he gave in because it was too tough going to two churches.” Hardly a conversion moment to share on Oprah but environmentally speaking a good one.
She and I finish our cigarettes and notice the time of our respective departures. She smiles at me and thanks me but I thank her at the same time.
She gets on her Lutheran plane to some Lutheran place and I hop on my Catholic plane. We converged, for a brief moment. She may think of our conversation on her Lutheran plane because I’m confident that I’ll recall our short talk on my “one true faith” plane.
Did we merge? No, that’s not the point. We converged. “Characteristics” and “environmental conditions” prohibited us from merging. But that’s what a hub is for. Perhaps the next time we could talk about those characteristics and environmental barriers while sharing a hub moment in Atlanta’s C18.