As I was boarding the Southwest flight, I found myself with boarding number C20. If you’ve never flown Southwest, when you get your boarding pass, you are put into group A, B, or C. And since seats aren’t assigned, the later you board, the worse seats you will get. In line this morning, a man said, A means you sit anywhere. B means you sit in the back. And C means you get a center seat.

Sitting in the center seat is rarely a joy. As I am writing, I am in that very spot. In the center seat, it is hard to relax. I am keenly aware of every movement I make. If I relax, my arms will drop and the dreaded arm touch will happen. And I know the guy on my left wouldn’t like that. It would surely wake him up. As I read my book and even write this blog, the lady on the aisle-side is keeping track. In the book I was reading, she watched every highlight I made. When I just got my second cup of coffee she had to sit back so I could take it from the flight attendant and now I am sure they are wondering how long it will be until I have go to the bathroom.

When you’re in the window seat, you can shift toward the window, keep your book tilted away from peering eyes and sleep with a built in headrest. On the aisle, you can have a whole armrest to yourself and bend your knees toward the aisle, as long as you move them before the cart comes down the aisle. How do you handle the middle seat with grace? Be polite, smile a lot, apologize if you overstep your boundaries. Say thank you and excuse me.

Do you realize that in many of the situations of our lives, we are sitting in the center seat? Whatever we do touches someone else. With our families, at work, at church, we are surrounded by people we “touch”. We occasionally need their help. We cross boundaries and need their forgiveness. What we read, how we sit, what we say in our sleep all has an impact. And with our grace and kindness we have the opportunity to be a positive, helpful influence. It is one of those opportunities to be the salt and light Jesus spoke about in Matthew 5:13.

So go ahead and accept your center seat. Embrace the opportunity. And if you fall asleep try not to drool on your neighbor’s arm.
Personal note to my aisle-seat friend, “nice sitting next to you, and sorry about the arm.”