This is going to sound like I’m very weird, need a tinfoil hat, or have completely lost my marbles, but just about every time I get on the bus I think about Jesus. The first time it happened I was around twenty-two, traveling on public transit where I lived at that time, in Monterey. A crazy guy got on the bus all the sudden, as we were traveling the streets of that picturesque town. My first reaction was discomfort/fear. He was in a state of talking to himself and others Invisible to me. He had scraggly, long, blonde hair and clothes that were dirty and holy (not in any spiritual way), he had a grubby hiking pack. His blue eyes were wild. And I heard something in my head as he sat down in front of me. “That could be Jesus.” It was so random and weird (particularly since I hadn’t been to church in years) and outside of my train of thought. I started thinking about it though. “Maybe that’s Jesus, trying to see what kind of a reception he gets in that disguise.”
Nothing like that has happened on this trip, unless you count the guy who had trouble differentiating his own personal space from mine on the trip out. Mostly it’s just weary travelers, who, like me, probably just got through a Thanksgiving Feast with family and are now headed home. But there is literally every kind of person here at the Atlanta terminal. A guy that came in on the bus with me was wearing camo pants and an Abe Lincoln in sunglasses shirt. There are no less than fifteen children here right now. Around my seat I hear no less than three languages being spoken. Any one of these folks could be Jesus. What started me on the Jesus bus this evening was a post from my daughter, thanking me for being her friend. That made me think about how I hoped she felt loved enough by me. Then I got to thinking about the young man in the hoody in front of me, whom I’d smiled at on the way down the aisle. I hoped he felt loved. Then I looked around the bus thinking about what would happen if we could see each other with that kind of love.
And then there was the crazy Jesus thought. He actually said to love your neighbor as yourself (it’s part of the “Great Commandment”). Except it always gets past over because I think that many folks like the parts of the Bible that can be translated into, “you don’t belong here,” which of course seems to maybe miss the point just a little. Of course its always easier to love folks in theory than reality. Like, you know, there are going to be prostitutes and lepers, and crazy people who sit there and talk to nobody in particular or that lady across the way who’s wearing a get-up of camo shirt, blue teddy over the top, high black boots, bright pink socks/leggings and a fluffy plaid miniskirt. She’s topping all that off with a giant teal hair clip. She’s even got a pack of marlboros in her hand. I have real issues with smokers. She’s just held up her newspaper and it’s entirely written in Korean, which is a language I still read. Maybe that’s my sign.
Love is hard. The people we’re tasked to love in our lives (including, I’m want to add, ourselves) are problematic and flawed. They brought their crunchiest chips on the bus, or an onion sandwich. They sometimes look for all their might like they just got off the crazy train. They’re small and they cry or need to much. My daughter was never still and hated being hugged. But it’s still the great commandment. And on nights like this, when I drank a red eye before riding, and had an hour of uninterrupted thought after the sun went down and I couldn’t read anymore, I think that Jesus is on my bus, in disguise, trying to see what kind of a reception he’ll get dressed up in the most outlandish getup you can imagine, doing the Korean crossword in pen.