(The following is an excerpt from a first draft of a book I wrote in November, 2010 as a part of National Novel Writers Month. For more information on why on earth anyone would want to subject themselves to writing 50,000 words in one month – visit http://www.nanowrimo.org )
Often floored, incredibly flawed.
One of my favourite pass times here in Melbourne is taking public transport. It’s fortunate I’m so fond of it, because on average approximatley one hour of each of my days here is taken up by it. That’s seven hours a week, roughly thirty hours a month, except in February clear, making my approximate time spent on “trains, trams and busses,” (which you should know by now you are all able to travel on “”using your Myki card – remember to touch on, and touch off) a total of two hundred and seventy hours spent on public transport here in Melbourne. That’s eleven and a quarter full days.
I have always loved sitting in moving vehicles, as a young girl “going for a drive,” with Dad was one of our favourite activities and have never really much enjoyed driving myself places… something about being able to stare out the window and feel like you’re going somewhere without actually having to move really appeals to me – which I am sure psychologists the world over would probably tell you speaks volumes about my personality and attitude, a lazy ambition perhaps.
Although I do indeed love lolly gagging out the window of trains that shoot like bullets down a barrell towards Belgrave, Lilydale, Frankston, Epping and beyond… the stand out thing about public transport, and the sole reason I have decided not to purchase a car for as long as possible… is the people I have met, and interactions I have had with them on the Melbourne Metro system. I am not an environmental poster girl by any stretch of the phrase trying to reduce carbon emissions by not driving a car, I am simply someone who values the, I would argue somewhat lost, art of really talking with people.
The first time I was truly affected by someone I met on public transport over here was one night when my best friend Grace and I were on the way home from the city on the 109 tram which runs from Port Melbourne to Box Hill. The 109 runs though reasonably upper class suburbs such as Richmond, Kew, Balwyn and the like… but anyone who has ever ridden it will tell you, and this has also been confirmed by attractive British strangers in conversations on the 109… that it is the primary vessel which carries the most peculair menagerie of Melbourne’s travellers. I can’t quite describe it to you, but I can guarantee that no matter what time of day or direction you are travelling – you will encounter societiy’s… most interesting (euphamism’s ahoy !).
It was a Saturday or Sunday night, I don’t recall exactly when – but it was the first recognizably cold night of Autumn as it is written down in one of my journals, and Grace and I were journeying home from the city. We were facing the back of the tram near the rear end of it (hot tip: if you are a scaredy cat… always sit near the front) and becoming tried. There was a man diagonally opposite us to the right – he was facing forwards and seemed to be either drunk or on drugs, and several moments into the journey he noticed I was wearing a particular ring. The ring is one I bought from myself from a jewlers in New Zealand upon the completion of my degree, it looks fancy – but it’s just silver and cubic zirconias en-circling (or en-ovaling) a large oval shaped deep green coloured stone – which I assume is some sort of resin or cubic zirconia… my jewler friend is spewing as he reads this no doubt. I bought it when I worked at a beautiful store called Redcurrent over the summer of 2009/2010 just before I moved to Melbourne… and it was to be gift to myself for having finished a whole degree, something I never really thought I would do, and still can’t believe I have done. The drugged up gentleman on the tram spoke in our direction…
“Is that Lara Bingle’s ring?”
“Pardon?” I replied, not having the foggiest of who on earth Lara Bingle was, I still don’t really know.
“Is that Lara Bingle’s ring? She’s rich you know. Did it cost you a million dollars?”
I laughed. I had just spent the last $3 dollars in my bank account on vending machine Doritos.
“No no, it’s just a cheapy, I like it though!”
“Oh, it looks expensive!”
I began to notice the features of his face, very blue eyes… but the colour of them wasn’t what struck me, more the look in them… a deep set sad desperation and longing, masked with a frail sheath of happiness, and a complete absence of joy… and here began a moment that changed me. We continued talking from across the tram, he was too slumped across seats to get up and Grace and I certainley were not willing to go too close. He asked us if we had boyfriends, to which we promptly replied “Yes! Yes! We both have boyfriends, and husbands and partners as well!” trying to make ouselves appear more than spoken for and he sighed a sigh of dissapointment. Can’t blame a guy for trying! Then he noticed our accents and asked us where we were form, we told him we were from New Zealand and he said he would love to go there… he asked if he would need a passport, and we said he would. He was thoroughly disheartened… this is where he let on he was heavily involved in drugs and had a rathe extensive criminal record.
The next stop was ours, so Grace and I got off and before we left wished him God’s good blessings. He kindly waved and wished us well saying it was nice to talk to us – and it was very nice to talk to him too to be honest, but as we walked home in the dark from tram 109 stop thirty-something that night… I was in a far away place somewhere in the back of my mind. I couldn’t help but re-think parts of our conversation…. and I realized that every second statement he had made had been one about how worthless he thought he was. Grace and I had tried as best we could to be encouraging, and always disagreed with his self-depreciating statements, of which there were more than are grains of sand at Bondi. And as I looked down at my emerald and diamond zirconia ring that was now catching starlight in it’s chambers, I spoke softly to God and thought “only you Lord, could take something as silly as a ring, that I look at and think of my achievements… of my Kingdom of “stuff”… and in one moment, a chance meeting… change its whole significance to remind me of who I used to be, of how completley broken and worthless I felt, and how easily it could have been me slumped across seats on the 109.”
I was shaken up for days after meeting him. His sad smile and joyless eyes embossed in my memory as I rolled my ring around in the palm of my hand, I prayed and prayed that somehow God would show himself to the man on the 109… and now, still, when I look at the ring I think not just of what I have achieved, but of what my life could easily have been like without knowing the love of Christ.
I have twenty-five Australian cents in the left pocket of my leather jacket. They have been there for months, along with a badge a friend bought me at a gig as a boy-related joke. The badge makes me laugh aand smile cheekily at how immature I can be, and how hillarious immaturity is at times – a friend of mine once said “true maturity, is simply knowing when to be mature,” and I couldn’t agree more. The twentyfive cents reminds me of all the goodness there is in the world, of the kindness of strangers, and that I’ll always have enough of everything I really need.
It was the 24th or 25th of May this year (my chronic journaling has failed me again and I have no exact date for the event written except the ones with the entries either side of it!) I was on the 109 – that infamous vessel – travelling towards Box Hill from the city, I sat next to a lovely looking Nana and put my iPod on as the journey began. The tram stopped at St Vincents Plaza which is where Brunswick Street meets the City, and on got a lady who was asking people for money. If ever someone gets on my train or tram and I notice they are asking for money, if I have some – I will give it to them and be prepared in advance, because as if it isn’t humbling enough to ask for money from others… how utterly degrading it must feel to stand and wait as businessmen and women forrage through their wallets of credit cards and membership cards to find you five cents. The woman walked up the tram and I turned my iPod down so I could her her soft voice that sounded like it was stained with a thousand cigarettes get closer. Hand on my wallet, wallet in my bag I turned to look at her as she came up next to me…
“Excuse me,” she had the kindest, saddest eyes, “do you have fifty cents I could use to make a phone call?”
“Yeah sure!” we replied…
I realised that it wasn’t just me who wanted to help this woman, the kind old Nana sitting next to me was eagerly rummaging through her wallet just as I was. I fould the fifty cents first and handed it to the woman who needed to use the phone, she thanked me and got off at the next stop where a pay phone was. I turned my music back up and drifted back into my own little tram of thought, but was aware the lovely Nana next to me was still rummaging gracefully through her handback. The next stop was mine and just as I was about to stand, the lovely Nana tapped me gently on the shoulder…
“I said I’d give her fifty cents too.” She smiled the sweetest smile and I took in every laugh line and crows foot, and in my hand – as though she was passing me the most delicate of breakables… she softly placed twenty-five Australian cents. Exactly half of what I had given to the homeless lady.
You see, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who upon being asked who they want to be, has said they want to be a stingy ‘orrible bastard of a person who couldn’t give a rats for the welfare of others. But occassionally I forget that, and lovely Nana, whom I may never be graced by again reminded me that day that we – yes, you and I even, are not so separate. It reminded me that we do long to be a part of something bigger, in generosity and kindness, that will somehow make a difference for good.
I worry sometimes you see. I worry about what I’ll do with my life, and I worry about money. It comes from a good place – everything in me wants to get the absolutle most out of every second of life, however occassionally that passion turns to worry, which is but a stones throw from doubt; but the unintentional partnership of generosity with lovely Nana one-oh-nine serves as a necessary reminder to me. That I’ll always have enough, and if ever I don’t – if I am humble enough to ask… I will have more than. And so I have twenty -five Australian cents in the left pocket of my leather jacket, and there it will stay to remind me of the goodness of others, and the wonder of a God who in moments can make the world so perfect.
Sometimes my public transport experiences over here have been, as I say with tail firmly between my legs, a touch too scary for me. I suppose I’m a bit of a product of the West, whose media and politicians so love to induce fear into “we, the people”. But sometimes when I get on the train the thought flashes though my mind, just long enough to scare “what if there’s a terrorist on here? What if I die in some horrible train accident, who would tell my family!?” there are all these little things that I’ve learned about myself having been become separated from those closest to me in the world for the first time. Usually this level of worry/ insanity only strikes monthly, and I often reason my way out of it by remembering it is actually just as dangerous to walk down a street as it is to ride the train, but I will always remember one day where I was so on edge I had to get off not one, but two trains and take a breather for twenty minutes waiting for the next one.
The first was on the way out of the city on the Belgrave/Lilydale line… I had gotten on to a chock full midday train on which all the seats were taken, not looking forward to standing for the next ten or so stops I scanned the carriage once more… I noticed a rather portly looking man sitting alone by a window and hurried to take the seat next to him “a ha ! I found the last seat… everyone must be reeling with envy,” I thought to myself.
Little did I know.
The portly man turned and with the largest grin on a strangers face I have seen, kindly greeted me and asked my name. Now I am a fairly talkative type, and often find it odd to sit next to someone for a long period of time and not say a single word… I don’t believe in awkward silences really, because silence isn’t awkward in itself -moments are. However I generally think the acknowledgement of other human beings is simply humane, so I said hello back – and as I asked his name, noticed the faint smell of body odour and undertones of urine get steadily stronger. “Oh crap, that explains the empty seat at peak hour…”
We continued conversation and when he asked me specifics, I answered with vagues.
“Where do you live?”
“Where do you work?”
Just off this train line.
“What are you doing on Monday night?”
Hanging out with friends. Lots of friends. Millions of friends… so many people will know if you try to hurt me so en guarde!!!! (The italics only happened internally.)
By this point I had figured out he was not entirely there mentally speaking, seriously what even is the politically correct way of saying that anymore? However he seemed harmless. So we chatted a bit, then he began to show me a notebook of wild ramblings about what he did with his days. Written in a scribbled hand I saw the odd legible word, “feed ducks at gardens,” was in there and he told me about his grocery shopping too. He then statred asking me the same questions, “where do you live? Tell me where you work?” only this time there was an untertone of agresson in his voice and his smiling eyes were now wide. Situations like these I find the hardest, because I ask myself – is it better to stay here and talk to him, even though I am becoming rather terrified and my heart is ready to leap out of my chest and consider racing the train just to get out of this situation… or is it better to go?
I suppose it comes down to what my definition of “love,” is – because I wanted to be loving towards him. If my definition of love is honesty, then it is most loving to leave to go and not simply sit there on a mental pedestal, although our seats both physically and metaphorically were indeed quite level, to “tolerate” the man and his ramblings. However if my definition of love is being stalward and sticking things out, then it is most loving to stay, to sit, and to speak – to listen and to learn.
One of my favourite quotes, one of many…many…many is by an unknown politician who said “there is not one person whom I cannot learn something from.” I wish I knew who that politician was, so I could vote for them in every election – because there is so much truth in that statement. That day on the train I started to learn a little about myself… that all that is in me longs to sit and speak and listen, but this fear… this scared little girl that worries? She gets up and leaves. And that day – the latter won. I got off at Camberwell station, having been on the train for a mere two or so stops, and waited for the next train to take me to work and as I sat at Camberwell I stewed over my decision. I don’t know if I did the right thing outright, but I did the right thing for me… and sometimes, at this stage in life at least, I have to settle with that. That I couldn’t do the universally right or noble thing, which in my head is to befriend the man and hang out with him on Monday – with friends – but I can do what is right for me and perhaps that is the first thing to learning to do right, I do not know… I’ll revisit in another auto-biography’s time. I waited at Camberwell and boarded the next train to work.
Now on the way home that night, rather late – and in winter, so very dark, I had just walked the kilometre or so to the train station – a walk which is probably safe as a church, but you know… even things in churches aren’t always kosher; so I am usually very… aware as I journey home at night alone. My train was delayed and by the time it had arrived I was frozen through, I got on and I can’t quite explain it… but there was an odd “vibe,” about the carriage. Laughing drunk teenagers were talking about death and bombs down the back of the carriage, and I steadily became more on edge. The train stopped suddenley at Box Hill station and everyone felt a sudden jolt thoughout the vehicle. Lights flicked off then on again, the drunkenagers began joking about terrorism… the train started again and as it left Box Hill a tall man with skin the colour of white coffee entered the carriage. He was speaking quietly to himself in a language unbeknownst to myself wearing the robes of a monk and and as he moved through the carriage deep burnt orange fabric swirled around him. I was already in overthinking-girly-terrified mode, and his curtainous robed and unknown tongues were not helping to ease my palpatating heart. He moved closer to my seat, and sat down right next to me. Cross legged. On the floor… and began to pray loudly and rock backwards and forwards.
The words appeared like bullet points in bold in my mind.
Two in one day? It was like a Noah’s ark themed joke from the universe being played directly on me! I was terrified by this point as people on the train were starting to observe the little world that was happening within our carriage… and all that was going though my head was “I have got to get off this train.”
So there I ended up, at 10 o’clock on a freezing cold Melbourne winter night, sitting alone save for one young boy with a Crown larger, in disbelief that in the space of eight hours… I had two moments that would make me get off a train in fear (once so I could sit in the dark alone… great thinking Sietkiewicz, good one) and challenge me to the marrow about how I loved others in uncomfortable situations. I have seen the man who wanted to hang out on Mondays since, and I did not say hello. I don’t think it makes me a bad person, but it does make me think about how much I have to learn about irrational fear… and where the line between showing love, and hoping love shows in spite of yourself is drawn.
I sometimes carry a Bible around with me… so that if I find a heathen I can hit them. Kidding, I’m completley kidding… I almost am considering deleting that so that people know that I am not the bible-bashing type. But I’m not going to, I will simply trust you know me well enough by now to know… if you want to love Jesus, you figure it out. I’ll encourage you – more than I could enourage you about almost anything, but I have no desire to base a friendship on me offering you my ideals.
Anyhow, one particular day not so long ago, I was feeling rather anxious about a particular situation. A touch on edge about, oh gosh, a guy related thing. None the less I was at the train station, bible in hand, hoping to settle into my train journey to work and bury my nose somewhere Psalmy. The train arrived, I boarded and sat opposite an elderly gentleman who looked familiar but I can only guess we briefly met outside a patisserie one time in the city. I opened my bible and began to read…. asking God to please, please just give me SOMETHING to put my mind at ease… and then the man with the grey hair opposite me asked “what’s that you’re reading?”
As an aside… does anyone else notice how individuals of a certain generation don’t follow, at all, what is now a socially accepted norm that… if someone has headphones on – they don’t want to talk? It seems to haunt me.
I took off one of my headphones and replied to the gentleman “oh, it’s the bible,” “I thought so,” said the man and he asked what scripture I was reading. I still wanted the man to leave me alone so I could learn something from God, but he would not cease, and he was indeed very charming. He asked why I was reading psalm eighteen and I explained I just loved it, and then he asked if he could show me one of his favourites.
“Turn to 1st Peter,” smiled the man on the 1:25pm Belgrave train.
I did, mostly out of respect for old age, but also now I was intrigued…
“Read it aloud… go on then,” chimed the man…
“First Peter, chapter five – verse one…” my eyes darted in disbelief at the fourth word of the sentence I was about to speak.
“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”
I looked up at the man, in a mild state of disbelief… floored that I may in fact have just been hand delivered a word from God, via a middle man sitting opposite me on the train. Needless to say, both headphones were officially off and being curled around my iPod as I began to ask the man every question I could possibly think of.
We talked about church, we talked about Susan Boyle and how he couldn’t believe she had never been kissed… “send her to Melbourne, Victoria and I’ll kiss her!” he billowed hopefully. We talked about Lady Gaga and how he thought she was much prettier without all that “guff” she wore, and he told me he was on his way to go buy an Elvis gospel record. All the little things, little mundane, don’t-really-matter things were now the most interesting thing in the world of that carriage. One thing I admired about Allan, as I found out his name was, was how whenever he didn’t want to answer one of my questions, or simply saw no need for conversation… he would simply not answer, and not make any. Staring out the window, smiling at the spring blossoms, he would silently sit and wait for the next interesting thing to talk about. When I went to leave he shouted across the carriage that I was beautiful, and I blushed raspberry as I told him he was beautiful too and then went about hurrying to work.
I don’t know who is reading this, I know for sure a poor friend of mine from work who I promised an email with some story in it will be, perhaps to his detriment – congratulations if you made it this far T-Bird, bravo indeed! – so I feel odd about saying that I got a “word from God,” (blessed churchisms) through the direction of an old man on the train. You see I don’t want to bang on about Jesus all the time really, but the scripture Allan pointed me too was all too clear to be coincidence for me. I mean Lord knows how many verses there are in all the bible… but to pick that one out… at that one exact time? My meeting with Allan reminds me of how in a moment God can make the world so small. Small enough that a chance seat choice infront of an old, grey man could lead me to one out of the hundreds of thousands of verses in the book… and it would be one that would tide me over until the waves of anxiety that had been nagging me would subside. I hope next time I’m worried, Allan will be on my train.
Around a fortnight or so ago I was on the train heading out of the city towards Blackburn station to collect a car from an incredibly trusting friend of mine who was lending me her steed to drive to Bendigo and back in over night. Road trips always have me in good spirits, I think it’s the “going places while you’re actually just sitting down” thing again. The reason for the outercity excursion was to take a friend of ours who is a Pastor in New Zealand to a church in Bendigo to preach on Sunday morning and there ain’t nothing like Sunday mornin’ church in “Benders.” On the train to Blackburn to collect ol’ reliable, the car of a hairdressing Wiccan which was filled with severed model heads (for hairdressing purposes) and a fake skeleton (I assume for Wiccan purposes, otherwise I fear for the coming season’s hair styles) I was listening to good music and brimming with joy as I smiled out the window. I noticed a blonde woman walking towards me, she couldn’t have been much older than I, but she was thin and frail looking – as though she was made of glass on breakings brink. She wandered to and fro across and up the asile, stopping to speak to strangers, and though I had my headphones in, I could tell from the humiliated look in her eyes she was begging. Not even beggars take delight in their namesake. She moved closer towards me, and I decided to give her whatever was in my wallet. She paused just infront of me, and appologized for interrupting my music, though I had already turned my iPod down and had been listening to her for a few minutes now, and asked if I pehaps had any spare change. Spare change is something people always seem to complain about, but never seem to want to give away. Either stop complaining or start giving I think is the solution.
“Yeah sure I said,”
“You look happy,” said the girl in an almost shocked tone
“I am happy, I said as I smiled and handed her a five dollar note.”
She recoiled like a spring.
“I can’t take that,” her face dead serious and in complete disbelief, looking from the note – to my face, and back to the note… “it’s too much, I can’t take that.”
“Yes you can, it’s yours – I don’t want it.”
“Let me give you some change for it? Please…” she began to pull fifty cent coins out of her palm and present them to me.
“Nope, I’m not taking change – it’s a gift!”
“Please, I can’t take that… it’s too much”
“Well, I’m going to leave it here,” I placed the note on the seat infront of me and closed my handbag, “and either you can have it, or someone else can – but it’s not going back in my wallet.”
“Please, please just let me give you ANY change for it?”
By now people had begun to look, and so I said I’d swap her a fiver for a dollar – she gave me two, and took the note still in total disbelief.
I went back into my own world thinking about the woman with the blonde hair, and how highly she thought of that five dollar note – a coffee to someone who has the privlege of a job and a home. The next stop was coming and just as the train pulled into the station and came to a halt, the woman reappeared beside me and put her hand out to shake mine. With a look in here eyes that was disbelief shrouded with the welling up of tears, she grabbed my right had and shook it so hard that the two rings I always wear on my ring finger dug into the side of my pinky and began to bleed, it was the sincerest thankyou I have ever received from a stranger.
As I write this, illuminated under the lamp at my bedside table I can see a small scar begin to form in place of where the stones in my rings dug into the skin of my little finger. I often think about her, I think it is ridiculous that she would think so richly of a simple five dollar note… to look at something like that and go “no, no way – it’s too much… I don’t deserve that?” seems quite truly bizzarre to me. But the more I think about the, the more I see of myself in her. I wonder how often , if I really stop and think about it, I look at blessings laid out before me, and go “God no, no way, there’s no possible way I can take that… I’m not good enough for that… I don’t deserve that kindness or that generosity or that opportunity?” and the more I realise we are not so different after all. I could just have easily ended up in her position, and so who am I to withold from her? The poet in me hopes me little scar stays to serve as a reminder of her, I never want to forget that moment where a woman on a train one sunny Saturday morning shook my hand so hard it bled.
Public transport is incredible here, not simply for the service… but for the richness of the people you encounter and the interesting things you learn about your train line if you spend enough time observing the changing frames out the window. I can tell you that at 8:30am every Saturday Morning a group of people, men, women children of all ages gather at Surrey Hills station with pigeons they have caught throughout the week to put into a large pigeon avery which they release and watch the birds fly at some time after 8.43am. I have yet to see the birds fly free, and every time my train stops I hope beyond hope it is delayed but long enough to see them soar so I can look in wonder upon their flight, and at the looks on the faces of those who had caught them to release. I can tell you that on the right hand side of the train, just after a park between East Camberwell and Canterbury stations there is a house that in the back yard has five trampolines lined up in the most incredibly fun looking bouncy back yard arrangement. I can tell you that the view between Mont Albert and Box Hill on the left side of the train is the most beautiful panorama of the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne you will see from anywhere that isn’t Mt Dandenong, and that at night it is the most incredible place to see the constellations of street lamps from Box Hill Tafe to Doncaster mall light up the sky. Yes, the Melbourne Metro System has enriched my time here and challenged me in a million and one ways, the Belgrave / Lilydale line has seen me in all of my states… a girl smiling out the window with a grin that reaches ear to ear in disbelief at the goodness of God, and on other days someone who can’t get to her home station fast enough, holding back tears long enough just to get home, and have a decent cry with homesickness, dissapointment and confusion – the usual ups and downs that are part and parcel of this wonderfully whole experience called humanity. I have known since the beginning of writing this that I wanted to write about public transport and this evenings journey home on Tuesday the 09th of November was another priceless one that will be stowed away in a carriage of memory which I will no doubt reflect upon in the coming weeks and months, and was the spring board for these last several thousand words of chapter.
Tonight as I walked up the ramp on to platforms one and two at Blackburn station through the warm spring evening air, which I am still unaccustomed to being from New Zealand where spring is but a glorified Autumn, potentially with more rainfall, I saw a man standing at one of the vending machines. Becoming frustrated with the machine which would not take his coins or produce treats for him he walked up to the service desk and began tapping loudly on the polished steel counter to gain the attention of one of the staff. This was the first thing that caught my attention about him, “how rude,” I thought at his incessant clanking of coin to steel and just as the thought passed through my mind he turned around just in time for us both to briefly make eye contact. I knew I knew him the second I saw him. But where from? The look in his eyes was all too familiar. I did a mental recall of every slightly insane person that had ever walked though the doors of my work, he certainley wasn’t the dread-locked lad who asked me if I knew where he could get lessons on how to “sing with the birds… I just want to sing with the birds, man,” and so I wandered out in the warm night air to a place on the platform that I could stare at the sky from as the first of the nights stars began to show. I saw him come near, and being the sensible young lady that I am, and scared little girl I can be, I began to walk nearer to the covered, well lit and laden with other travellers area of the platform. I turned my iPod down so I could hear properly, and as I did…
I paused and took an earphone out…
“Will you marry me?”
Bingo – It was the man from the 109 who asked about my ring.
“Haha, no sorry!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes I’m sure, we’d probably be no good together and I’m sure you could do better!”
“Oh, but I thought I’d found the one…”
“Oh I’m sure you’ll find someone else!”
I kept walking away…
“But I wanted it to be you…” sounding more defeated than hopeful now he continued in his slow, drunken sounding voice…
“Oh well, it can’t be… but I’m sure you’ll find someone amazing though!!”
“I hope so… otherwise I might kill myself…” with a smirk the words rolled off his tongue, and I was all of a sudden completley aware of how close he was to the edge of the platform where a train would be hurling past at any second…
“No you wont!!” I said, hopeful and smiling… God please, please don’t let him jump. Please God please God please…
“You’re right,” he said… and he looked down at the ground… and then up again and said three words that broke my heart in two…
“I’m a liar.”
Everything in me wanted to drop my bags and sit down with him and tell him that no he’s not a liar. The Devil is a liar and he’s made you believe all this crap about yourself – that is in fact exactly that – crap. It’s not true but you think it’s true and it’s making you do all these drugs and drink so much and look for love in all the wrong places BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO because Jesus loves you !! And he wants to sneak up on you, and when you least expect it whisper to you in such a voice that you’ll never, ever, ever forget it that those lies you believed? The ones about you being a failure? The ones about you not being worth anything? The ones about you having no hope?
None of them true.
They are the lies, you’re not a liar… you just don’t know the truth which will set you free yet. And God, I hope you find it. I can’t force you to love Him, I wish I could – but if I did, just like responding “yes” to a train station proposal… it wouldn’t be real love.
So what did I do at Blackburn station tonight? I smiled at him, put my headphones back on… and on the brink of tears, tried to find a song that would calm me… tell me that somehow something I said or did was good in that moment… remind me that God was present and that it wasn’t chance and that somehow I dealt with him in love. I know I can’t be God, thank God I can’t… but I always want to be open enough to let God be God.
I couldn’t find a song, and I couldn’t stop my heart from pounding. I was terrified, and completley shaken up, just as I was when I first met him all those months ago on the one-oh-nine tram, and as I sit here, still shaken up, staring at the green crystal and cubic zirconia ring which first started out meetings… I hope beyond hope that God shows him he’s worth something, because he is of intricate and immesurable worth.
He’s not a liar, he’s not useless, he’s not worthless.
He’s human – just like me.
I hope that next time I see him I will have a dose more courage, an ounce more guts… and more love than I can shake a stick at, because in his simply existing… he is worthy of nothing but all the riches of love.