Thursday, September 21, 2006

On the road

Public transport is often a useful instrument for observing human nature and behaviour. This morning, for instance, in the early morning light, the sequined shoes of one woman not far from where I was sitting shone with a beautiful array of colours. The cotton top worn by another was equally glistening. I couldn’t wear either the shoes or the top, but the play of light was a fascinating distraction as the bus bumped along the road.

At one stage along the road, a man wearing a trilby hat and a grey business suit climbed on board. As he stood, it was obvious that he was one of the many poor people, often immigrants with no work permits, who try to eke out a living in any way that they can. Why? Well, because his suit looked as though it had been in a washing machine and had not been ironed afterwards. He carried in his hand a bottle of water and a window brush. In spite of the man’s attempts to appear businesslike, he was actually planning to spend his day cleaning car windows and was somewhat embarrassed about the job he was about to undertake.

The contrast was marked: there was, on the one hand, sufficient confidence in life and living to be able to face the day with a bit of a show and an ability to shine. On the other, there are those who find drabness and the burden of dragging through each day. It’s almost like an apology for being alive at all.

Yesterday evening, I sat on the train alongside two small gypsy children, one aged about 3 and the other 5 years old. The bigger girl tried to pull the younger onto her knee, only to have the little one slide off. With much giggling, they repeated the process at least ten times before my exit gave them a second seat. It was so lovely to see the children acting as children, not being used for begging, as is so often the case. There was innocence and enjoyment of each other’s company. There were no problems facing them: there was freedom and a life worth investigating.

Life has many ups and downs. There are moments of sheer joy, but there are also those of deep sadness, in our every day living. The wonderful thing is that, at every moment, we have someone with us, who is intensely interested in all that we say, think and do. Thank God!

God bless,
Sr. Janet