During the first week of my US vacation, I decided to be adventurous and took a bus to explore a mall a few cities away. On board, my interest was particularly piqued by two commuters. One was a stylish woman in her late 20s. She boarded the bus and took her sweet time dropping her fare while talking on her mobile. Taking in the skinny jeans, the chic scarf and boots and the Dolce & Gabbana shades, I thought she'd probably be one of those with a nice enough job, either with a nice boyfriend (no wedding ring on her finger) or happily single.
A few stops further, a big man in a wheelchair boarded the bus. Rather than make him look weak, his being confined in a wheelchair emphasized a positive energy and a certain strength. Maybe because he had this cheerful disposition that showed with the ready smile he had on his face. And when he directed a smile at me, my smiling response was my personal salute of honor to him.
An honor well deserved, indeed, because a few minutes later, just as this man was preparing to get off the bus, he took time to talk to the young woman. And because I was right across them, I was able to catch what the man said.
"Whatever it is that's hurting you now, you will be OK,"he said to her very kindly."Just remember you have a God who's bigger than you. Just let him take care of all your troubles. Remember that. You'll be OK."And with a gentle pat on the woman's knee, the man slowly wheeled himself to the ramp then got off the bus.
It was only then that I noticed that the woman was in tears. Behind the big shades, she had been silently crying all that time. Nobody took time to notice. Except that man. And blessed was he for making the effort to reach out.
I got off that bus learning some valuable lessons. On life. On people being in pain. On people hiding their pain. On people using their pain not as an excuse to wallow in self-pity, but rather as an opportunity to be more sensitive to others and reach out, even in small ways.
I thank God for these lessons. I should take the bus more often.