Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the church of everyday life

i was waiting for the 101 bus the other day, wearing my navy blue skirt and gray thigh-high socks. it was pouring rain, and by the time i had walked the three blocks from my house to the bus stop, water had soaked through my knock-off target camper shoes and into my thick, ribbed socks. and i thought of those monks who can dry soaking wet beds sheets on their backs in 20 degree weather. and then i saw a bus barreling towards my stop—the 118—so as the driver approached, i offered a wave and a smile indicating that he didn't need to stop, that i was headed to some other place that he could not take me. but he stopped anyway. and as opened the accordion doors, he said, let me give you a transfer, and he tore the paper so deliberately, i could hear it over the muffled engine of the bus. as i stepped up to accept his gift, he held on to the other end and said: i want to reward you. most people just sit there like statues. and then he let go.

and if you know me, you know that i love nothing more in this world than a random act of kindness. and i've been living off of this one for weeks. i tucked that pink paper rectangle into the journals of rachel corrie, on the page where she writes:

in the back of the bus someone is talking about some band and they're trading headphones all around. all these people are awake and chatty and i'm tired from my graveyard shift. i really do love them. i love us riding the bus together. and i know it's a privilege to love riding the bus after having a car, but you know, i don't really care. i love us, riding the bus together.

i want to cultivate more of these kindness-based transactions, where one random person offers a small considerate gesture and is treated to one in return. i really do think people are intrinsically good and love each other. i think people are all so intent on getting ahead that they feel like suckers if they give someone a little grace, or a little wiggle room to be human in. kind of like why no one believes in socialism; we have no faith that the people around us won't take advantage of non-capitalistic system. and nobody's willing to be the first to sacrifice, whether it's letting someone into their lane, or paying higher taxes for universal health care.

oh, i know i simplify things. but sometimes i catch the the world in such a light that makes me so happy for the little things that it strikes me as strange that people go off to india and nicaragua and australia looking for a "spiritual experience" when there's so much spirituality to be had here.

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