Saturday, February 4, 2012
The Magic of a Ripple
"I need to sit THERE," a woman pronounced quite loudly.
My seven year old and I had just sat in the front of the bus. It was a Friday night and the bus was lively - full of students talking on their iphones.
We quickly moved to the adjoining seats.
She was loaded with shopping bags containing packaged food; some were tied to her black suitcase and - she tried to hold whatever she could - a few of the plastic handles slipped from her wrist.
We were heading to a potluck at a nearby synagogue in Pittsburgh for families of young kids. I was extra "spiritually pumped." All week long, I was looking forward to spending a Friday night at a synagogue - my only real physical and spiritual connection to Israel - my past, my legacy, my story. I was so ready to welcome the Shabbat. But on the other hand, I was feeling weak, lonely, exhausted, tired....
This woman had started to talk about herself - at first she was inaudible. But I listened closely. I was surprised to find my son listening with intent.
"I'm really in pain..." she said.
"It's a good thing you are not wheelchair bound," I said.
"And it's good that you can still walk."
"Yeah, I want to. I won't give up on walking..."
She started to talk more about her partner who abandoned her when he found out she had gotten sick...
"He gave up on me..." I could hear the pain in her voice even though she squeaked.
"That's not unconditional love," I said. "That's a condition..."
"Yeah," she said. "A condition."
The sun had just then wilted away as I made a quick mental note to greet the Shabbat from my bus seat. Pink and white shadows shifted as we rounded a curve. As we descended, the student neighborhood of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, came into view.
"Yeah," she said looking thoughtfully. "And then he got mixed up with some voodoo people..." Her voice drifted off as we hit the first traffic light.
Fate would bring me to this woman, who was even lonelier and isolated than I could probably imagine and needed somebody to hear her truth - hear her story...
As I looked deeply into her eyes, I saw and felt a very strange pain that almost paralyzed her. She struggled with every word, every breath.
It was such a compassionate, calming and truth-revealing moment. I was not afraid to talk to strangers. She could easily be my neighbor...I felt instantly connected.
I admit though... I was a bit relieved when our bus had come to our stop. But I was grateful to have given her the chance to step into her truth. If I had stayed on that bus, who knows?
With the people you meet, you have the opportunity to drop your ripple at ANY given moment. Listen to their stories. Hear their pain. Listen to their hearts. Listen to yours. Every story will bring you closer to your own truth, vulnerability and pain. Find your own gift that will ripple over... beginning with one person at a time.