Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Bus

I don't like riding the bus. The sights, the sounds, and oh yes...the smells. When I get on the bus I see people all around me who are in absolute misery. I overhear conversations of women who have a girlfriend in jail and a husband at home and who wear their recidivism rate as a badge of honor. I hear families talking about how they spend the bulk of their time either in jail, in court, or visiting someone in jail. I see women on the bus who dress like men and who look as if every ounce of their femininity has been stripped from them. I see and hear young girls who swear like marines and spill out of their clothing. I see men who look as if their manhood has been savagely crushed. I hear and watch mothers who are babies themselves cursing out their toddlers and pulling them down the aisle by their arms and slamming them into seats like they are a sack of potatoes. I encounter old people who are so ill that they urinate on themselves and the seats. I don't like the bus. Sometimes people who are obviously mentally ill get on the bus and I have to admit sometimes they frighten me. One day a man with blood on his shirt boarded. A few blocks later the police pulled us over and hauled him away. I want a car. If I had a car I wouldn't have to deal with all of this. I could turn up my gospel music and roll past it all in insulated comfort. But when I ride the bus, I can't block it out. If I couldn't see it, the young man wearing a blunt over his ear like a fashion statement, I sure could smell it...and God help us all when a homeless person who hasn't bathed in years gets on the bus, especially if its crowded and you can't move far enough away. And if I couldn't see or smell it, well I would have to hear it...all the yelling and cursing, begging for change for something to eat, and asking for a transfer. I want one too buddy..OFF the bus!
But riding the bus makes it impossible for me to live my life in the sanitized vacuum of my own little world. It is a constant reminder of the great commission and how badly people need Jesus. It is the ever present rebuke to the church of how far we have to go. It isn't Asia. It isn't Africa. But it is most certainly a mission field, a microcosm of society as a whole. I would like a car, but I know I where I need to be...on the bus.

Mark 16:15 Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.


Dan Trabue said...

I'm glad that you see your need to be on the bus. That's a difficult place to get to: The world needs me to be salt and light.

However, one thing that I'm trying to learn myself is to lose the self-importance that is so common to some of us. Ya know? I'm trying to learn that I need the world.

I need to know the joy in being well enough to walk to the bus stop and travel thusly. I need to know the humor and grace present in our homeless friends, the difficulties and endurance of our single parents.

In short, I, more often than not, am more in need of prayer than the "least of these." I don't need a car, I need God. Or, in the words of St. Jimmy of Buffet:

I have been out wandering
I have traveled far
And one conclusion I have made
Is God don't own a car.

voixdange said...

Your comments made me smile. Thanks.I've been a Christian for most of my life, but I have been seriously serving in the inner-city for 12 years. I can honestly say that I feel that many Christians, especially in this part of the world live in a mental vacuum.
My son, who is graduating High School this year came to me a couple of days ago talking about Nehru and how awesome he was because for the first 15 years after Indian independence he led a completely unified government with no opposition. My response was that the subsequent disunity that we have seen has occured because the farther away people move from oppression the more they forget and start to bicker over petty things. Because I see such raw pain and suffering up close and personal all of the time, I get very frustrated with institutional church. We spend so much of our energy on things that matter so little...

Dan Trabue said...

"We spend so much of our energy on things that matter so little..."

Amen and amen.