By Joanie Butman


Returning from Milwaukee this week, I went through security and saw a sign indicating “RECOMBOBULATION AREA.” I laughed out loud. Is that even a word? As my flight was delayed a couple of hours, I had plenty of time to investigate. Unique to General Mitchell Airport, the term recombobulation was created by “Barry Bateman, a former airport director. Bateman made up the word and suggested the signage in order to add some comic relief to what can be a tense aspect of air travel.” Apparently, it’s working. I’m not the only traveler who has stopped to snap a photo. Comic relief must be how Milwaukee residents get through those long, cold winters. On the ride to the airport, Dave, the livery driver, told me about a man who lives close to the landing strip. He painted Welcome to Cleveland in big, bold letters on his roof, which has caused many a traveler to panic upon approach.

All kidding aside, Barry Bateman is onto something that goes well beyond air travel. Given the chaos and pace of this world, it’s more important than ever to create a personal recombobulation area. The explosion of the Meditation and Mindfulness Movement is succeeding in doing just that – providing head space to gather one’s thoughts and composure, to decompress and regroup. Just as an interesting aside, the Milwaukee airport offers a Meditation Room as well.

Christians have been doing this forever. It’s called prayer. Community worship can be an integral recombobulation area, and I find that to be the case as well. Who couldn’t benefit from dedicating a couple of hours each week to step away from the chaos and focus on God and each other? However, a couple of hours a week isn’t nearly enough for me. I need to recombobulate on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Focusing and centering myself on God through prayer is the only way to maintain my inner peace.


To accomplish this, the first thing I have to do is shed all my ‘stuff’ the same way I need to leave my bags, belts, jackets, jewelry, shoes and electronic devices on the scanning machine. In order to enter a spiritual recombobulation area, I need to create sacred space by shedding the trappings of this world – namely my ego, plans, complaints, to-do lists, and especially electronic devices. Only then can God speak into the quietness of my soul and restore me with His presence.

Harold Mester, the airport's public relations manager, comments that Bateman and his staff wanted to “help travelers start out on the right foot.” Based on the positive feedback he’s received, they’ve succeeded. The only way I can hope to succeed in beginning each day on the right foot is to ground it on a relationship with Christ. When my life is centered on Him, I can be peaceful amidst any storm – including travel glitches. Entering God’s security zone isn’t stressful, there’s never a line, and you can bring your cawfee! It’s a respite for your soul where you can lay your baggage at His feet and recombobulate in the safety of His everlasting arms.


While you won’t find recombobulation in Webster’s Dictionary, Urban Dictionary defines it as “something being put back the way it was, or into proper working order.” Spending time with God helps us to put things in their proper place – under His sovereignty. It brings us back to the source of our strength and identity when we are “out of order” or discombobulated. And who isn’t this time of year? Perhaps that’s God’s way of reminding us how much we need the gift of Christmas. Christ came because the world is “out of order.” Jesus offers us a recombobulation area in Himself. When you choose to spend time in His presence, He will provide a peace that transcends human understanding filling you with tidings of comfort and joy.