by David Morstad
John rides the bus to work. He is at the same corner every day in plenty of time to catch the bus that stops at 8:10. Because it is the same bus, every day, John sees many of the same faces of the same people on their way to the same places they go to every day. In John’s case, the destination is a national chain grocery store in Birmingham, Alabama, where, for six hours each day, he greets customers and bags their items. He likes the job well enough but, as those who know him best will attest, he seems to like the bus ride just about as much, maybe even a little more.
For most people, proper bus etiquette involves looking out windows, listening to iPods, reading, or generally doing anything other than openly acknowledging the existence of other passengers. John has little knowledge of, or interest in, such etiquette. He is a man with a story to tell, in a confined space filled with people who cannot easily escape him. In John’s view, the environment is nothing short of picture perfect.
Each morning he takes a seat, introduces himself to someone new, and tells them his story. Where he lives, where he works, his family, and probably what he packed for lunch that day. And he asks questions. A lot of questions.
“What’s your name?”
“How are you doing today?”
“Where do you work?”
“Do you have kids?”
“Do you go to a church? Which one?”
“What did you pack for lunch today?”
“Do you pray? Do you want to do that now? I know how.”
And then he gets off the bus. For John, it is not a journey wasted. It is impossible to know what people think about John before they have any interaction with him. For that matter, we cannot really know what they think of him after an interaction with him, but it is likely they are changed in some way. Coming to know people will do that.
John rides to work every day on a bus filled with people making their own journey. For most, it is a journey of the unexpected. Much like all the rest of us, they make that journey carrying everything that life has handed them. Ambition, purpose, maybe a dose of disillusionment, hope and regret, love and loss, and questions. A lot of questions.
Along our journey, whether a literal or a metaphorical one, we encounter unlikely traveling companions who share more than we are prepared to receive and stir us more deeply than we expect, because our fellow travelers carry with them the treasure that God has placed within them. And then, they offer us something truly amazing. They offer us the chance to catch a glimpse of that treasure. If we leave ourselves open to the experience, we may discover that God is seeking to connect us in unexpected ways. We may discover the wonder of our commonality, not by what we see on the surface, but by the treasure that lies inside.