Waiting For The Bus


I spill out of kaiser Permanente Medical Center with other members fortunate enough to afford insurance. My monthly premium covered all but $300 of my recent hip replacement. Waiting for the bus in the cold Pacific wind, I listen to the even more chilling chant of a man at his post in a parking lot driveway.”Sparechangepleasesparechangepleasesparechangeplease.” Inwardly I chant, “There is irritation here, but I am not irritated,” a chant which morphs into metta, “May you be safe from harm, happy and peaceful, strong and healthy. May you receive what you need.” I am grateful that my privileged life has given me the education and counseling I need to deal with stress. A round trip Lyft ride to the specialist would have cost $30 so I am stuck with the bus. This man likely has no doctor, much less an extra $300. He probably doesn’t even have bus fare, while I have the tech training and hardware to maintain a running online purse account with a senior discount. It’s all relative, isn’t it?

Choosing to take another three buses instead of enduring the frenzied but more direct E line, I wait three blocks from the famed Pike Street Market where fish-tossing is a sideshow. A woman wearing a harlequin-crafted face screams obscenities at the invisible person haranguing her about an auto accident. Her soliloquy is interrupted by another  agitated woman who threatens to hit her granddaughter with her shoe if she doesn’t behave. “I Don’t care what your mother does, when you’re with me, you won’t get away with…” being a toddler? The whole bus queue witnesses the declaration.

I want to run away. Judgment wells up from my collection of six psychology courses. Maybe if Grandma had those courses too she would have handled the situation differently. I manage to change judgment to compassion and send peace.

Three hours after beginning this journey I arrive home where a young woman meets me at the door and proclaims that I am Jesus and must give her a place to stay for the night. It was impossible on many levels. Next time I will make sure to have bus tickets and a list of shelters in my pocket when I venture out.

My ears and heart ring with traffic noise and life noise as I lie down to rest. I am tempted to wallow in the news that after this long trip to Kaiser Permanente there still is no help for the chronic illness that makes its home in me. My lament is caught up short when I remember the chant,”sparechangepleasesparechangepleasesparechangeplease.” Lesson learned. Until the next trip. There’s room on this bus for you too. Hop on.







“Bend With Me, Sway With Me”


The black wrought iron bench was toasty-warm today where I sat watching lake side trees sway against the gentle wind. I hear Michael Buble’s catchy lyric, “Like a flower bending in the breeze, Bend with me, sway with ease.” The wind today was coming from the Fraser River Valley in Canada, but it is spring, not winter. Normally wind comes from the south around here in the Puget Sound area and our trees know that. They are genetically disposed to sway with the southern winds. When those winds howl down from Canada in winter accompanied by cold temperatures, we can be in trouble. It happened one winter when I lived in a rural wood. I woke up to the sight of eighteen trees uprooted on the road behind me. They can’t handle seventy-mile-an-hour sustained northern winds.

Recent deaths of siblings and friends have felt like those seventy-mile-an-hour winds, causing me to wonder how long I will need to brace against death’s onslaught. I am coming to realize that the ageless human ritual of bracing against death is futile. It simply comes when it comes. Unlike trees in the Northwest United States, our souls are genetically disposed to withstand onslaughts from all sides. I want to bend and sway with the wind of death instead of wasting energy trying to control its arrival.

As I sit on this black bench in spring wind, the image of a Day of the Dead shrine on my home altar comes to teach me. The bone woman is dressed in a vivid red dress trailing a pink ruffle. Blue, yellow and pink feathers festoon her wide-brimmed hat. She dances with death, swaying and bending to the timeless music of life. I hope to be carried out of this life on a celebratory wind. No kicking and screaming. No raging. I want to “go gentle into that good night.”











Photo Credit: Photo by Seb on Unsplash