This Sunday, I hiked the local trails I frequently visit when my soul is feeling restless and in search of peace — or truth be told, when I’ve eaten one too many of the holiday desserts still stashed in the fridge. Given recent national events, Christmas calories were not the catalyst of my three-mile hike. I sought those familiar trails to soothe my own roaring outcry — one I’d muffled by focusing on work deadlines and personal responsibilities. As I embarked on my Sunday session with Mother Nature, I somberly trudged the same muddy tracks trod by other folks, evidenced by soggy footprints along the winding, uphill climb. I wondered if those footprints belonged to others searching for peace, too.

In my 40-year journey on earth, I can’t recall a time when I’ve experienced so much distress by our political climate — and sadly, when gathering with loved ones, due to their strong positions held on the aforementioned. It’s no news that our passionate political differences are unraveling the fabric of our families while likewise driving wedges between decades-long friendships. And I’ll confess, my last long-term relationship fizzled over, among many things, our “irreconcilable” political differences. Sadly, our personal convictions are leading us to convict those who disagree with us.

As I huffed uphill on Sunday, my mental chatter was eventually calmed by the chatter of song birds. And those birds brought to mind another variety of “birds” that I called home for five years — airplanes. In 2014, I uprooted myself to fulfill a lifelong ambition to become a flight attendant. During my time in aviation, I had the privilege of working alongside and serving a richly diverse population that demonstrated to me that, despite our differing beliefs, we are all bound by our common thread of humanity. My airline family shared a mission to ensure the safety of our customers while providing them with first-class hospitality — a mission that was accomplished despite different political views, religious beliefs, and cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds. I’d like to think that our nation and world can follow suit.

Among the memories that stand out most to me are from 2016. I watched election returns in a hotel lobby among a politically divided group of crew members — peacefully. That same year, when I was based in Detroit during the Thanksgiving holiday, a Muslim family welcomed this Roman Catholic woman into their home, and with immeasurable hospitality shared their feast with me. I remain on their Thanksgiving invitation list to this day.

There were no major revelations on my hike Sunday afternoon. However, I made a few belated New Year’s resolutions. While reminiscing on those muddy trails, I was reminded of the impact we have on our world when we treat one another with first-class hospitality. And so, I added that to my list of New Year’s resolutions. And on a personal note, I resolved to fight for my politically divided family. Because despite our differences, we’re bound by our common thread of humanity. We’re bound by love.

Gina Eaves is advertising director for The Daily Dispatch. Contact her at gina@hendersondispatch.com or 252-436-2821.