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I almost missed my flight.

I have missed a flight one time on my way to an American Academy of Religion (AAR) meeting in Atlanta.  I sat in the gate area and everyone but me and two other men boarded the plane.  I still can’t figure out how the three of us failed to hear the boarding call.

This time, it started off as a busy last day in Capetown, South Africa.  I got up early to, preach at the African Theological College. I had a sandwich for lunch at the College and I went to the Greenmarket and bought some souvenirs for my kids.  Then I went up Table Mountain in a cable car to take in the beautiful city of Capetown and Robben Island, the site of the infamous apartheid prison where Nelson Mandala and others were interred for 27 years.  I planned to have my “last” dinner at a seafood restaurant at the Waterfront and go to the airport for 9 p.m.  My missionary friend told me for the past three days that my flight back home was at 11:30p.m. Monday night.

I just took his word for it.

I love watching sunsets. So my friend said that we will go watch the sunset before heading to the seafood restaurant.

We drove up Signal Hill as this is the place to see sunsets in Capetown.  It is high up and you have a great view of the city, Robben Island and the Atlantic Ocean.  When we got there, it was about 5 p.m. and there were lots of people already there waiting for the sun to set.  Groups of friends were gathered to enjoy the stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean, families with little children were taking pictures of the beautiful scenery and soaking in the breathtaking landscape of Capetown.

There is something very soothing and calming about watching sunsets.  The thought that the sun is going down and the night has come with the promise of a new dawn is very comforting.  Sunsets give a sense of fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment, a sense of something closing and the hope of something new happening:  a full exciting day has ended but a new one will begin again.

As the sky darkened on Signal Hill, it was getting a little chilly and the wind started picking up.  Para gliders were still flying high above the city with the birds.

Everything was picture perfect.

I calmly watched the sun set knowing that this would be my last night in this beautiful city.  I wanted to soak in the exciting quick dip of the sun into the Atlantic horizon as it drastically changed the color of the sky from blue to pink and then to purple.  The sight was amazing and breathtaking.

The sun finally set at 6:30 p.m. and I was ready to go out for a nice sit down dinner before my long flight back home to U.S.

As we were walking towards the car, my friend asked me whether I confirmed that my flight was actually 11:30 p.m.

I didn’t as I trusted my friend.  I then asked her, “do I have any reason to doubt him?”

She said “yes”.

I got into the car at 6:35 p.m. and double checked my flight.

To my utter horror, I realized that my flight was at 7:50 p.m. NOT at 11:30p.m.

The entire ride to the airport was nauseating.  I felt my heart beating faster and faster and thinking that if my blood pressure rises any higher, I am going to pass out in the car.

Something like this had never happened to me before.  I am organized or at least I feel organized.   I could not believe that I did not double check my flight that morning and not just take my friend’s word for it.

My missionary friend told me that me that she can get me to the airport in 30 minutes.

She drove quickly, weaving in and out of traffic even on the highway.

I finally made it to the airport, through the ticket counter, security and customs with 5 minutes to spare at the gate.

It was quite a memorable way to end the day and the trip.

(for more pictures of my time in S. Africa, see my other post https://gracejisunkim.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/khayelitscha-township-capetown/comment-page-1/#comment-336)

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Grace Ji-Sun Kim is Associate Professor of Doctrinal Theology and the Director of the MATS program at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She is the author of The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other: A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Grace of Sophia: A Korean North American Women’s Christology (Pilgrim Press). 

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