I Wonder About You


6 December 2022

By Brittany Longsdorf 
Lewiston, Maine  

My family thinks I am weird because I cherish getting to the airport three hours early. It’s not that I am an anxious traveler or worried about the constant cancellations plaguing recent air travel, but because it is such a natural space for wondering about people.  

I love to sit with a cup of coffee and watch my fellow travelers choose books I’ve never heard of from the bookstore, wrangle their children slightly differently than I do, saunter or sprint to their gate as the flight attendant makes final calls. At the airport it feels like more than people-watching to me, perhaps because in a liminal space between one place and the next instead of just observing I begin to really wonder about the people around me.  

My family thinks I am weird because I cherish getting to the airport three hours early. It’s not that I am an anxious traveler or worried about the constant cancellations plaguing recent air travel, but because it is such a natural space for wondering about people. 

Are they traveling to a much-needed vacation? To take care of an ailing parent? To a big job interview that would uproot their life?  

I believe that wondering about one another is a powerful practice in compassion. When we spend time imagining strangers are whole, complex, feeling people, it breaks down the imaginary walls of separation we often put up between us and them. We wonder easily as children.  

My four-year-old asks me one hundred wonder-full questions a day and when I sometimes answer “Actually, bubba, I don’t know,” he shrugs, says “Huh” and wonders some more.  As we grow up, we tend to distance ourselves from wonder in lieu of definitions and answers. We search the internet for everything.   

Our invitation this advent season is to return to wonder, and I invite you, particularly, to wonder about people. Especially people you disagree with, don’t know well, or haven’t met at all. Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion, said “I see no stranger, I see no enemy.”  

I believe that wondering about one another is a powerful practice in compassion.

Expanding on these sacred words in her book See No Stranger, interfaith activist Valarie Kaur writes, “Wonder is where love begins, but the failure to wonder is the beginning of violence. Once people stop wondering about others, once they no longer see others as a part of them, they disable their instinct for empathy” (Kaur, page 11).  

In this sacred season, find your airport equivalent and expand your heart’s capacity for love and empathy by wondering at the people who pass by. It might even become the most wonderful time of the year. 

This story originally appeared in the Daily Bread. Daily Bread submissions are always welcome.

Previous Page