Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Train Thoughts

I kind of feel like whining this morning.  Complaining about the fact that my neck and shoulders and back ache, that I woke up with a headache, AGAIN, and that sleep has been, umm, disturbed for the last several nights.  (The night before last I dreamt there were daddy-long-legs spiders crawling all over me.  Really pleasant as dreams go.  Really.)

Instead of whining, (or at least whining extensively!) let me tell you about something that happened on the train this morning. 

When you take the bus and train at exactly the same time every day, you begin to recognize people.  There is the scowling lady on the bus, and the lady who limps whose face seems shaped into a permanent sneer, accentuated by bright red lipstick, the young guy in the baseball cap who looks like he's mean, but always gives up his seat for the sneering, limping lady.

There is a guy I've noticed on the train several mornings too, often sitting in the empty bench seat across from him.  He seems to be of middle eastern descent, and mostly he stood out for his odd behaviours, seeming to be mentally ill, sometimes rocking forward and back with his eyes closed, covering his face with his hands, his lips forming words without sounds.

I sat across from him this morning, too.

Only today it was different.  Today for some reason, it became clear. 

What looked like mental illness was prayer.  He is very likely Muslim, and the change came over him as we turned the corner out of downtown.  As soon as the train began to travel East, the rocking and moving lips began.  A ritual that I've seen repeated several days now.  We take the train just as the sun is beginning to rise, and it made sense in some tiny moment this morning that he would say his morning prayers, facing east, as he travelled to whatever his destination is.

It made a difference, somehow, to see prayers instead of mental illness.  Mental illness is not really frightening to me, but leaves me watchful.  I've had some eventful encounters on the train with mentally ill people, and I watch carefully if that seems to be what I'm encountering, carefully judging if my safety is at risk.

This morning it was different.  I sat quietly as I always do, but today I wanted to honor his prayers and devotion.  And as he prayed, I prayed for him, quietly, too.  That the man Jesus, who people of his faith know as a prophet would come to him, and reveal himself as Saviour.

It was an odd deep space, to sit there and pray for this person with whom I've never exchanged conversation, and likely never will, given that his prayer time comes in the brief moments we travel together some mornings.

An experience that I'll ponder and hold within myself as the day goes on.  Praying blessings over this man who expresses devotion publicly, praying silently but physically on the train each morning.


shallowfrozenwater said...

that's a beautiful story Lisa.

Lisa said...

Thanks :)