Can’t The Child Just Get Off The Bus? A Lesson In Waiting

by Hilary Horn

Lent is a time of anticipation, expectation, and waiting. We begin on Ash Wednesday. And we wait, and wait, and wait for the Resurrection celebration on Easter Sunday. Hopefully we keep ourselves occupied during this time of reflection and contemplation. But as for me, waiting is difficult. How do I occupy the time while I am waiting. This question is even more important for me during the period of Lent.

So what does a child and a bus have to do with Lent? It was, and still remains a lesson in waiting and redeeming the time in anticipation of an expected event.

Here is how the story transpired.

My wife and I were out riding in the car running errands. You know, those everyday errands that one fits into one’s already tight schedule. We were not on a very tight schedule that day but we did have to be back home by a certain time. The reason for this deadline has slipped from my memory. I suspect and hope you will see why I cannot remember after reading this story.

I turned the corner onto a street on our way to our first destination, the U.S. Post Office. And there in front of us was a stopped school bus with the doors open, the stop sign out, and the red lights flashing. I stopped the car of course and we remained stopped behind the bus. It was in the afternoon so I assumed the bus was ‘dropping off’.

We sat in the car and waited. We continued to wait. There was no sign of a child stepping off the bus. There was no adult standing at the curb. There was no activity whatsoever other than the flashing red lights on the bus.

Seconds passed. Minutes passed. I turned to my wife and said that the ‘former me’ would say at this point, “Can’t the child just get off the bus so we can get moving?” But the ‘new me’ should say, “Perhaps there is a problem. We should give the child and bus driver some consideration.”

Just as I finished that second statement an elderly man trotted out from the front door of the house and up onto the bus. After a few moments the same elderly man stepped off the bus carrying in one arm a girl wearing full leg braces and in the other arm her walker.

He then helped the girl into the back seat of a car parked in the driveway and buckled her in. The doors of the bus closed. The stop sign retracted. The lights on the bus stopped blinking. The bus began to move.

The bus moved. I pressed on the accelerator and our car began to move.

More importantly, I was moved. The answer to the question, “Can’t the child just get off the bus?” is no. The child simply could not get off the bus. I am grateful for this everyday event providing me with many lessons. Those moments of waiting provided lessons in love, patience, blessings, caring, expectations, contemplation, and many more. As someone once said, “Life can only be lived in the present moment.”

Maybe God has a special Lenten devotional written just for me in the ordinary everyday moments of life. I just need to be present to take part.

When Easter seems so far away and I am struggling with the sacrifices or ministries I have promised to keep during Lent, I remember the bus. The child will get off of the bus. Lent will pass. The bus will move. Easter will arrive. Every moment during Lent is to be cherished. Each moment is to be lived. And so to paraphrase the earlier quote, “Lent can only be lived in the present moment”.

When I am frustrated by traffic, schedule, people, delays or whatever might draw me away from being present I hope I remember “No, the child cannot get off the bus.”

Br. Terrence Declan currently consists of being a professed brother with The Anamchara Fellowship.  The Anamchara Fellowship is a Celtic Dispersed Monastic Fellowship approved by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.  He is the the curator for the Fellowship’s website:  Brother Terrence is also the Prior of the St. Patrick Priory for the Fellowship located in Coral Springs, FL. As a professed member of Ananchara Fellowship, he treasures Celtic writings and Celtic spirituality.

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