When I got on the bus last week, I expected very little from my ride. My process is pretty mundane. I get onto the vehicle, greet the driver and slide my pass, then take my seat, get out my Bible notebook and work on reviewing old verses or memorizing new ones. Usually, I keep to myself and stay relatively private; people seem to appreciate that on the bus.
When some riders enter, they greet everyone. I return the courtesy. For the most part, however, I am usually lost in my book or in prayer, whichever I feel inclined toward that morning during the commute.
One day, however, I saw someone waiting for the bus who looked familiar. In fact, my recognition of him became far more vivid as the bus drew to a stop. He was a young man with whom I attended high school. We had a handful of direct interactions back then, but I couldn't tell you a single class that we took together. If I remember correctly, he played football. I knew his name, and I remembered how I felt around him back in high school.
His presence was, well, soothing. He had aire of peace. Calm. Contentment. Those are rare traits for a high schooler to possess, but I always remembered thinking that he had them. He wasn't always playing to the class in hopes of being liked nor carrying any pretentious aires of being elite (like I did). He was just himself, and he was comfortable in that space.
I was really happy to see him.
Seeing folks from "the old days"--whenever those old days were--can be a hard experience. Perhaps you were unkind to them, or they to you. Maybe you never liked them, or you always wished that they liked you. Whatever the case, sometimes we meet at a place and time in life where we have a disconnect, and that's a sad reality. Frankly, I try to rally against that these days, entering each interaction with a desire to make it a positive one for the other person more than myself and trying (albeit poorly most days) to be more intent on their experience than my own.
This may have been what led me to greet the fellow alumnus when he sat next to me on the bus. I thought to myself, maybe it will mean something to him that I remember him, that I'm glad to see him, that I'm interested in how he's doing and not avoiding eye contact. I have no idea if my attempts at ice breaking would have that effect, but I pursued them, nonetheless.
"Excuse me," I began, "did you go to Mount Pleasant? Class of 1999?"
"Yeah. Yeah." he said with a nod of recollection as our eyes met. "Class of 2001."
I don't recall if he reintroduced himself or I mentioned his name (I'd like to think the latter), but he then asked me to verify mine, and we were off--asking each other about this and that. You know, connecting in ways we probably never would have 15 years ago in high school.
But that's not the cool part.
One day last week, he saw me reading when he got on the bus. The notebook cover was blank, and the text inside was hand-written. He asked if it was "The Word". I told him it was, kind of. It was Bible Memorization Notebook, a little project I started back a year or so ago. As I read and study, I copy passages I want to memorize, then having written them into the notebook, I carry that rather than an entire Bible for review and meditation at random times. The nondescript cover tends to peak interest in others rather than nullify it, and the book is simply easier to bring with me to places. When I explained this to him, he told me that was something he felt he should start doing. A fellow believer from my days at public school? Who knew?
Well, I think God did. I don't think that its happenstance that I remember this man so vividly from so many years ago. I don't think it's coincidence that we are on the same bus route. I also don't find it simply fortuitous that we happen to agree on core matters of faith. I think we've been brothers for a long time, he and I, and our Father's just giving us a chance to get to know each other better for a season. And that, well, that's worth taking a chance at conversation on the bus.
I encourage you all to listen to that inkling in your soul the next time you see someone you recognize, regardless of who they are and where. The Spirit may just be trying to bless you, inasmuch as you seek to bless someone else. Funny that works.
Love and affection for you all,