Maria took a wrong turn--when a fellow traveler appeared to show her the way.
Maria Land was on her way from Dallas, Texas, back to Helsinki, Finland, her native country. It was a business trip that she would take without her husband or their two-year-old. "It was my second business trip back home since we had moved to the United States," Maria says. "But this time I was on my own."
Changing planes at the Kennedy airport in New York can be challenging for the most experienced travelers. But Maria felt fortunate--her arriving and departing flights were on adjacent terminals connected by a tunnel, just like last time. Confidently she passed the flight attendants providing information, and hurriedly walked toward the tunnel. She would have only a half hour to find and board the only daily flight to Helsinki.
But, something did not look right. "I made a wrong turn, and suddenly found myself where I was not supposed to be," Maria says. "I started to sweat." Hurriedly she retraced her steps and saw a big map ahead, surrounded by people. "Lord," she prayed, "Send me an angel to guide my way." It was merely a wish, Maria says. She wasn't sure she believed in angels. But she did need some help. She had spent ten precious minutes getting lost, and she could not afford another mistake. Determined, she stared at the map. A red dot stated, "You are here," but where was that? Maria took a deep breath, and just then heard a courteous voice. "Do you need assistance?"
He was tall, brown haired and inconspicuous, wearing brown trousers, and a checked jacket, and carrying only a New York Times folded under his arm. (Later, Maria would describe him as a character from a '50's movie.) "You are lost, right?" he asked again, smiling.
Maria wanted to deny it. It was not just a matter of pride. To agree with him meant admitting that she was afraid. Instead she nodded. "I need to go to-"
"I know," he answered. "We'll go this way."
Mutely, Maria followed him, dragging her suitcase and laptop along. How had he known she was going to Finland? Her clothes? She was dressed like any professional American woman. Had he seen her ticket? But how? "He seemed to be constantly one step ahead of me," Maria says, "So there was no opportunity to ask him. As we passed a row of shops, I began to wonder who he was. Maybe I was getting involved with someone not so nice." And yet, for some reason, she trusted him.
'Who are you talking to?' one of the three boys asked her.
As if he had heard her thoughts, her guide slowed his pace, turned around, and made a friendly comment about the weather. Weather is always a safe subject. "Yes, indeed," Maria began, then stopped. There was the entrance to the tunnel right ahead of her. She knew exactly where she was now. Gate 6 was at the end of this tunnel, and she had enough time left to board the plane. Of course! He was taking the plane too. That's why he had known where to go. "Are you heading also to Helsinki?" she asked.
"Yes," he nodded.
"So we are taking the same plane!" Maria was happy about this. But her guide shook his head. "Another plane?" Maria asked.
"Yes, some other," he confirmed.
It didn't make sense, but she wouldn't keep him any longer. "Thank you so much for your help," she said. "I can find the right gate now." He turned and walked a little way with her, then stopped and said goodbye.
As he did so, Maria noticed three teenage boys coming towards her, wearing odd expressions. "Who are you talking to?" one asked as they reached her.
"Why, this gentleman." Maria turned around to point.
But there was no one there. The entire long tunnel was empty. "There was no pillar, no store or door where he could have disappeared in this brief moment," she says. The boys were still looking at her, as if she was having some sort of breakdown.
Maria passed them and hurried to the gate. Just a few moments later, the jet was airborne. Maria leaned back in relief. "I thought of all that had just happened," she says. "How the man just knew where I was going. How he did not need any instructions. How we had had a telepathic connection. The odd
answer he had given to me. And - most of all - how he had disappeared."
There was only one logical conclusion, she decided. She had asked for an angel to guide her, and she had received exactly that. "There is more in this world than we know with our limited senses," she says. "Angels are real."