A woman waits for a bus in temperatures that stir jealousy in the hearts of dry ice. The bus is late. Again. As she steps onto the bus, she sees there is one seat available. Rather than feeling grateful that she won't have to stand during the ride, she silently resents the person to her left.
She likes to use her bus commute for prayer and meditation. So she closes her eyes and begins this process. Several minutes later, the stranger taps her shoulder and says, "Does this bus go downtown?"
The woman's insides switch from peaceful to incredulous. Her thoughts jump and spark. He was on the bus when she got on in uptown. So god only knows where he started. How can a person be on a bus that long and not know if it's going downtown?! And to interrupt the few moments of quiet that exist in her day to ask such a stupid question, really irritates her. The nerve of some people! Then she notices he isn't very clean, he's carrying an over-sized canvas tote and his hands are shaking. Great. A drifter. He probably hasn't known where he is since 1990.
Keep in mind that these thoughts are going through the woman's mind at computer speed. And in the midst of this self-absorbed mental tirade, another thought enters her being. Patience and kindness. Somewhere along her recovery path she has listened and paid attention. She takes a deep breath and turns to the stranger. She speaks gently and evenly.
"Yes sir, it does go downtown. The driver will turn onto Hennepin shortly then proceed through downtown and cross the river."
He nods and she closes her eyes to return to meditation, feeling relieved that's over with.
A few moments later he says, "Thank you for being kind."
An overwhelming feeling of humility washes over the woman like a powerful wave. She realizes how close she came to being cruel to this person and for no reason other than selfishness. She feels humbled by the reminder of just how powerful living a recovery path can be. She feels humbled and saddened by the fact that answering a simple question, is considered an act of kindness. And she feels tremendously grateful that she listened to guidance.
The woman genuinely smiles at the stranger and simply says..."Thank you, too."