en busca de los pobres - it was the only phrase I could see from where I was sitting. I believe it means "for the poor..."
She'd been intently reading since before takeoff. But every time I tried to peek at the book, she'd turn it, almost as if she knew. Writers can't help it; we're curious or at least good writers are. In addition to holding the book, the last two fingers of her right hand, ring-man and pinkie, grasped a rosary. She'd read a little and then finger the beads, a few more pages, then a few more beads. This read-bead prayer lasted the flight's duration.
Was she afraid to fly? I don't know. I do know that at one point she dozed for just a second and startled awake by grabbing my arm, as if she might be falling or something. Cuanto lo siento. I believe that means "I'm so sorry." I waved away her embarassment and she returned to her prayer. As she readjusted in her seat, the book turned my way and I stole a glance: piensa en alguien que. I believe it means "think of someone who..."
Maybe, just maybe, the lady beside me in 17D was thinking of someone poor and then remembering him or her or them to the man melded to that cross dangling on the end of her rosary. And then she'd think a little more and remember another poor soul.
I'd like to believe that maybe, just maybe, that lady realized the poverty of her seatmate in 17C - me. I'd love to believe that maybe I was a bead in the hand, which in the economy of prayer is worth two in the bush, and that this abuela made mention of me to the Man of Sorrows. Maybe she also mentioned the young girl in 17B who told somebody "I sure do love you" just before takeoff and then slept bobbleheaded the rest of the flight. And maybe she also mentioned the man in 17A who huffed and puffed most of the flight due to bobblehead girl; maybe also the airline attendant who looked so lonely; maybe also the pilot who kept coming on the intercom saying "I'm sorry for the bumpy ride folks; keep your seatbelts fastened."
It really was a turbulent flight.
As we exited the plane, bags in hand, heads unbobbled, I passed the pilot and made mention of the ride. He looked at me intently and said "Man, you folks had no idea."
I'm sure the wonders of aircraft construction, wings and things, ensured our place in the clouds. But I wonder if a certain plane on Monday was truly kept aloft by the weathered fingers of a righteous Hispanic grandmother as she made her way around the beads. Maybe the dips we experienced were the spaces between the beads and as she grasped the next one, we'd level out. I don't know this for certain, but in the economy of prayer I'm convinced most times we have no idea.
I've lately become fairly pragmatic about prayer; if it works for you, do it. I may invest in a rosary and keep it close, especially on plane rides. If I sit beside you and you notice my fingers, you'll know what's going on. Regardless of our point of origin or final destination or connections in-between, we are all los pobres...
I wish I would've told that lady gracias. I'm certain it means "thank you."