Stranded!

It is 6:30 a.m. at the airport in Charlotte, NC. All around me, prone on the floor, are members of our men’s basketball team and even our trainer. We’ve been in Charlotte since 1 a.m.

We departed Winston-Salem yesterday afternoon on schedule after a hard-fought game at Wake Forest. Snow was in the air and on the ground–a couple of inches of the sort of wet snow that clings to the bare branches of the trees and transforms surroundings into a true winter wonderland. We bussed to the airport at Raleigh-Durham in good time through the weather, but then the trouble started. The snow created a problem for our carrier, U.S. Airways.  Our short flight to Charlotte for a connecting flight to Providence couldn’t leave because the carrier had run out of de-icer. A comedy of errors ensued. We all got off the plane at one point, then re-boarded. Finally, we left four and a half hours late, arriving here at 1 a.m., hours after the flight to PVD had departed. So we have waited through the night.

When we arrived, Airport Security restricted us to the baggage claim area, redolent with the faint but pervasive smell of aviation fuel. The players and coaches took cabs for a while to an all-night restaurant. When they returned, there was general merriment over games of cards. The young men and their coaches stayed in good spirits.

Eventually, security re-opened the airport and here we are, upstairs again. I came up early, when security re-opened at 4, and was lucky to sleep for about an hour in this quiet and relatively dark section of Concourse C. I awoke to find myself in the midst of a basketball dormitory–space for some much needed rest for our Crusaders after their fifth consequitive road game, and an endlessly long night.

The concourse is springing to life now. Flights are beginning to arrive and depart. The newstands and food shops are opening. People hasten back and forth. Our weary student-athletes slumber on. Another night to remember, about Holy Cross, if not at it.

Advent, we always say, is a season of hope. We wait for the coming of the Lord. But early this morning, we also wait for Flight 1588 to Providence.  Three hours to go. In its own small way, this night to be remembered, is another lesson in hope. And patience.

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