At nearly every airport in the country, you’ll see dozens of people packing their security items.
Adults carry briefcases, teens carry iPods, and toddlers carry blue blankets while furiously sucking their thumbs.
And right behind them, I’m carrying my security, too. No, I’m not sucking my thumb. But, I do carry my security — no, ashamedly, it’s not always my Bible — it’s my pillow.
My pillow is the last thing I grab when I leave to catch a plane, usually leaving at 0:dark-30. Recently, as I stooped to kiss my sleeping beauty and grab my pillow, I failed to notice the pillowcase put on the night before.
It wasn’t until I arrived inside the well-lit terminal that I realized the color of the pillowcase — bright pink.
It’s not that I’m sexist. I truly think real men can wear pink, but a pink pillowcase is crossing some sort of manly boundary, and I have boundary issues.
Now, you’re probably surprised a grown man who openly carries a pillow would be concerned with something so inconsequential as the color of his pillowcase.
But, I was.
Annoyed I’d been exposed in pink, I sideswiped my way down the moving sidewalk unit. I came upon a girl sucking her thumb and swinging her baby doll. The girl pointed to me and her mother responded to her in a whisper.
Was it my pillow? Was she making fun of it? Hmm. Maybe she wanted it. I quickened my pace.
Hoping no one at the security checkpoint would notice the downy softness of my pillow, I slung it on the conveyor belt. Truthfully, they wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t nearly forgotten it on the receiving end.
“Wait,” the security lady yelled, “Is this your pink pillow?”
I’m certain people were suitably horrified.
As I reached for it, she smiled in that perfectly sassy way of someone who’s got you in the crosshairs of humiliation: “You’ll need this for ‘night-night.’ ”
Truth be told, my fellow travelers weren’t so much staring at me as they were staring beyond me; beyond me to their own problems and their own embarrassments.
They were remembering the times when they’d hauled their own shame into a public place; the times in which they were shown to be someone less than they imagined themselves to be.
Those exposing moments usually come as we encounter life’s little security checkpoints. These checkpoints usually materialize in the places where it becomes important to strip us of those items that give us comfort or false importance.
Just as in the airport checkpoints where you lay aside the entrapments of importance — cell phones, fat wallets, Rolex wannabes, designer shoes and, yes, even pink pillows — there are divine checkpoints where we encounter God, who can thoroughly search our souls.
They are the places that tend to strip us of our self-interest, our pride, our hardness, our excuses, our grudges. I find my checkpoints in the hospital chapel where I often will ask God to sound an alarm if I’m carrying stuff that I shouldn’t be carrying.
Sometimes I find these checkpoints on the beach where I can almost hear the waves laughing as they witness the grandiose image I’ve constructed of myself.
Life nearly always will present these serendipitous checkpoints. They will be checkpoints we can anticipate with great expectation. For at these places, we can be sure God always will sound the gawking buzz to tell us we’ve been found out.
And with that, I’ll say, “Night, night, y’all.”