As I was walking to the MARTA in Atlanta to catch a train to the airport the wind grabbed at my jacket the cold had me moving quickly. A gentleman in front of me turned to see what the noise was behind him so I nodded with a smile. My carryon suitcase had become loud from being dragged over rocky terrain.
We struck up a brief conversation about the incident (him hearing me behind him and our shared smile) and as I continued to walk in haste (Chicago has me moving a mile a minute when I walk anywhere) he asked if he could borrow some money for a train ride. He mentioned that he was staying at the church up the way and until he could get a bus card from them he could use the help. For a split second I wanted to say, “Sorry, not today,” and continue on to the airport to head home, but I remembered something I had read the week before.. We are all One.
Now, I’ve heard this before and so have you but I’ve been taking action to these words and look at each human I interact with as a part of me. Each person I see as an aspect of myself, a mirror, a divine collection of cells here to live and love, experience joy and sorrow, just like me.
Instead of saying, “Not today,” I said — “Follow me, I”ve got you covered,” and with a smile so big he actually led me to the elevator. I asked him for directions to the airport instead of grasping my iPhone and it made the whole experience feel balanced — a gift for a gift. When we got down to the gates to enter the train he just followed me in so that we only had to charge the card once. It was brilliance. The small act of defiance made my smile even brighter ((I”ve always been a rebel)) and I was so glad to have seen this man as myself. Put myself in his shoes.. I even imagined myself asking me for a few dollars to ride the bus — and I always give myself what I want — so it was easy to also give Terry what he asked for.. That is his name: Terry.
We split ways for a moment; I fell back into listening to Tracy Chapman and I noticed him smoking a blunt down the way. He was an older african american gentleman with hands that looked like they had worked very hard and eyes that showed a bit of remorse and a lot of kindness.
Once we were both seated on the train Terry came back to talk to me. He was so sweet. Sharing his life story with me I learned he had a run in with the cops a good number of years ago and that had changed the course of his life. He was waiting to be allowed back into Florida soon so that he could live with his daughter and grandchildren. I asked what made him happy and he said having peace of mind and that having peace of mind meant having a job. I inquired further trying to get to what brought this man passion but we didn’t really have enough time on the train to get deep. I enjoyed hearing his story. I enjoyed our connection. This man is my mirror. Whether homeless, rich, poor, clean or dirty.. He is my brother in humanity..
Well, Terry was about to get off the train and it just so happened ((how divinely 😉 )) that I had put enough money on my MARTA card for two rides that day even though I certainly knew I only needed one. Before Terry left I gave him my MARTA card and gave him the best smile I could. He thanked me again and smiled back. I was riding to the end of the line so I settled back into my seat and took a look around at the other passengers. A younger african american man who was seated a few rows back must have been watching the whole thing. He looked me straight in the eyes, smiled and nodded. I giggled.
And then I couldn’t help but cry. Well, I only let my eyes tear up a bit because I didn’t need to cause a scene but there were definitely water works going on. Ya see, I was dressed in heels and this lovely white dress. My red cheetah luggage and my nice backpack all perched next to my seat as this man and I gab away smiling and relating *relating!* like brothers and sisters. ME: a privileged white woman, and this african american man who was arrested and his life was all a mess.. Ya know, Terry and I aren’t that different. I’ve been arrested before and whether God watched over me because I was praying all I could to stay free, or because of my middle class money and white privilege — I didn’t go to jail. I didn’t get banished from Illinois, I didn’t lose my job.. But Terry did..
So, I cried a little bit and thanked Spirit that I said, “Yes.” Yes, you can have $2.50 to take public transportation. YES, you can have a moment of my time to share your truth with me. YES, I care about you even though we may seem like we live worlds a part..
It was so fun too, cause in the Atlanta Public Trans you’re supposed to scan your buscard again as you leave.. well, my bus card was gone with Terry! So, I walked real fast behind a business man and slid through the gate. Made me feel all rebellious like the old days 😉
The moral of the story is easy. See yourself in every person you meet. Know there’s always enough. Have faith! and Follow your inner guidance. I feel so blessed to have been someone’s miracle today and I’m so glad that I got to learn from Terry, too.