Friday, December 2, 2016

The Train Ride

Tony drops me off at the train station--how romantic! Tis the beginning and end to all romantic comedies, dramas, and in this case, real life. However, this is not the end, just a 10 day separation where he stays home in nine degree weather replete with snowstorms, and I am off for an 80 degree island adventure: the annual sister celebration of my mother's life.

I settle into the 70 minute ride at a booth complete with a table. My travel time can be productive.. This reminds me of European travel! Yes, I pretend I am on my way to Amsterdam.

The train is like a stage where the different actors enter and exit. A woman jumps into the train panting so loud I can hear her from my seat at the front. Her lack of breath precludes a story she must tell; she missed the first bus that would bring her to the train, and the driver of the second bus was kind enough to drive fast so she could reach the train on time--then she ran the entire way. The friendly young man next to me sympathizes with the woman. One would think they are best friends--and they are for just a moment in time, because one human being needs another to share her rushed adventure.

I need a human connection too. After buying a round trip ticket from the kiosk, I learn the return trip expires this same day.

"Sir?" I ask the train attendant, "is it possible to use my return ticket for another day?"

He gives me the UTA transportation number and an easy solution--they will give me a code word for the return.

I switch trains at North Temple to catch the airport green line. The biting cold is in the twenties, and in order to minimize the transition to warm weather, I'd left gloves, hat and scarf at home. My pants are thin and my jacket isn't filled with down. Near shivering, I ride the escalator to the green line platform. Above me, two young men are barely dressed for the cold-- light weight shorts, no-sock sneakers, jogging suit jackets. Clearly they too are living in warm weather-future.

"Where are you going?" I ask.

"Cabo!" They burst out together.

Surely the train will arrive in seconds or we shall all freeze together--but it doesn't. Two minutes pass and I motion for the young men to join me in a corner I've imagined is the warmest place to wait. We are out of the wind at least. Five minutes pass. A man dressed in a wool long coat, a hat, comes over to tell us about yogis who can sustain their warm body temperatures without clothes, in the cold, with their awesome mind control. Ten minutes pass and surely the train must be close. I start jogging in place to stay warm.

Finally, I see the train turn the corner.  The cold disappears; warmth is imminent, hope is sustained.

Hope is knowing things will get better, the train will arrive; Cabo warmth is only a plane ride away.

It's December second and the month of hope is laid out before us with 23 days of giving.

We received Jesse's email yesterday asking for us to join in giving her students hope. She teaches/mentors 10 homeless high school seniors who may be in and out of foster care, who may be mentally handicapped, who may live in a sleeping bag under a freeway overpass; a few of them have children. The hope is so easy to give: Walmart gift cards, underwear, hygiene kits.

After another natural disaster, our friend in Haiti is trying to raise $3000 so children in his city might have Christmas. It's so easy to make a go-fund-me donation from the chair in my study.

All around us are opportunities for hope.

We not only need hope, but it's just as critical to give hope, for endurance is only possible with human connection and hope. Sometimes we have to give hope before we can see it for ourselves. How can we ever resist when it's so easy? When warmth is imminent, we can tolerate the cold.