Reflection - August 2017

posted Aug 10, 2017, 7:37 PM by Nancy DeBiasi

Recently I received an inspiring letter from a woman in her seventies. I was so touched by what she wrote that I asked permission to share her message with you. "Rose" lives in a small town. Each week she commutes by train for an hour into a large metropolis to spend an overnight and a day, giving her daughter a break while she cares for her two children under the age of two.

 Rose's description of her journey into the city stirred my soul:

"It is the opposite of what many do at my age. I take a commuter train, packed with people, often having to stand at least part of the way. Returning on Friday night, the train compartments are jammed with working folk going home, no air conditioning. My point is what this does to one's life of prayer. I am so conscious of humanity, of people in crowds and individually, a seething mass of people, busy, trying to earn a living. They are all God's children; we are all siblings.

 I pray the Our Father and wonder how is God's kingdom being built up by our activity; what is God's will for us. I pray for the people I'm sitting next to, for their work and families. I pray for the cab drivers, great philosophers and commentators, for the Uber drivers with stories from Somalia, Egypt, struggling-out-of- work-actors, Libyans, you name it. What a privilege to listen to their stories; they tell you such intimate things sometimes. So my spirituality at the moment is not one of trees and seasons and nature, but of human beings in their diversity, their industry, their creativity. God gives us this drive, this vitality, looks with compassion on us all."

 Rather than finding her strenuous trip a burden, Rose sees it filled with an awesome bond of human kinship. She envisions it as a spiritual adventure that unites her deep self with the hidden beauty of strangers pressing into her space. How grateful I am for Rose's reminder of the preciousness of humanity and the vibrant life of divinity abounding in those around me, when I allow my consciousness to receive that view.

 I must admit that I do not think of standing in long lines, inching my way through large gatherings, or sitting in packed airline departure gates, as a spiritual adventure. Not until now. Rose has graciously reminded me of the valuable approach I can take when being among a mass of people I do not know. I can relish the mystery, wonder, and strength of our common humanity if I turn my heart in that direction.

Irish author John O'Donohue wrote in Anam Cara: "The human face is the subtle yet visual autobiography of each person... The face always reveals the soul; it is where the divinity of the inner life finds an echo and image. When you behold someone's face, you are gazing deeply into his or her life."

 The next time you find yourself in a throng of strangers, pause in the manner that Rose does. Look at the variety of faces. Open your mind and heart to their invisible stories and the journey of their souls. Find joy and solace in the recognition that a spirit drenched in divine goodness rests at the core of each person whose face you observe in the crowd.

Abundant peace,  

Joyce Rupp