After a month of travel, a delightful mix of work and rest, I was anxious to get home. Still, I wasn’t looking forward to negotiating yet another airport, where each line earns you the privilege of waiting in another. As we approached check-in, we were waved off to wait with a half-dozen others. “Are you sure they sent us to the right line?” I asked my husband, as I watched people in the long queue next to us check their bags for Philly while we waited— unmoving — behind a rope. “The sign says Philadelphia,” he reassured me.
Suddenly a young woman appeared, and without any preamble, began to ask us questions in careful English. “What did you see?” she asked me brightly. It was a hard question to answer. I had spent a number of days walking the northwest coast of Ireland, I’d seen the Atlantic stretching out before me, breath-taking cliffs, tumbled-down chapels, and sheep — lots of sheep. I’d seen Gaudi’s magnificent Sagrada Familia, and Michaelangelo’s David. I took a lot of pictures, but my most potent memories of this trip are as much about what I heard as what I saw. Why don't we ask people who've been away, "what did you hear?"
The walk where it was so quiet, I could hear the sheep tearing at the grass. The rocks rolling on a shore far below. The bubbles breaking in my cappuccino.
The experience led to a short reflection on Ignatius' notion of the composition of place posted today at DotMagis (with a great graphic!).
The mystery of the lines was that they were funneling people off to let trainees practice. Did we look patient? Like teachers? We each got a little gold star on our passports, regardless.