Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wrong Way on the Bus

When you find yourself someplace unexpected, make the most of it.

Last week I rode the bus for the first time by myself in Seattle. I reiterate: my first time taking public transportation here I took the 44 bus going the wrong direction. When I realized I was headed the opposite direction of my intended destination, the bus driver waved his hand gently and said it was an easy mistake to make and showed me where to get off and take the other line.

What a gracious gesture, I thought, but as I stepped off and approached the intersection, there was my 44 bus already pulling out from the bus stop across the street. Ah! Well, I resolved to wait for the next arrival. Pacing the sidewalk as I waited, it suddenly dawned on me that I was standing adjacent to a beautiful university campus with a large, old library, and the paths beneath the tall, wise trees whispered to me to see where they led. The green lawn strewn in shadows seemed a sanctuary from the busy streets so I started walking.

A friendly young lady, an alumn, agreed to guide me to the library, and as we walked, joining throngs of college students laden with backpacks, I felt a surge of youthful optimism and my feet clipped along the path a little faster. I decided to stay and make the most of where I had unexpectedly landed – for who knows but it was where I was meant to be all along?

The Gothic-style library with its cathedral ceilings, stained glass windows and spiral staircases enchanted my heart immediately as I ascended to the upper room, called the Harry Potter reading room, with all four walls of the rectangular hall bedecked in colorful books. The ceiling and archways rose majestically over me and I found a cozy spot to settle down with my laptop in a quiet, studious environment. Who owns the answers to such questions as to where we belong and why we land there?

As the sun began to set behind the snow-capped mountains in the distance, painting a pinkish, purple and golden hue in the skies, so I set out to the streets again, finding myself in the prime location to walk 20 minutes to Blessed Sacrament Church for evening Mass. The church steeple, like a lighthouse to a ship coming into port, guided my way as I watched it over the tops of the buildings getting nearer and nearer. I felt like a pilgrim in my own city and found at the church steps a welcome place of rest. 

The first reading spoke directly to my heart about remaining in God’s love by loving others and believing in Him and that “perfect love casts out fear.” The Gospel recounted Jesus walking on the water while the storm raged and the winds howled and the boat with the apostles squeaked from the pressure of the waves. Our Lord's message in the throws and discouragements of life is to “Take courage; it is I," reassuring this traveling girl that I am never alone.

When I ended up off my intended path, the best awaited me because I opened myself up to possibility and discovery and looking at the world anew. In the end, just mustering the courage to to look around with fresh eyes at where we are is all that really counts because it means we haven’t stopped dreaming.

Our Chicago flight back to Seattle got canceled due to a snowstorm until the new year. We found ourselves, my boyfriend and I, with another four days in the Midwest. Unexpected turn of events. We took advantage of it. A visit with my brother that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. A few days more to rest before the end of vacation. A few more days of proving that it’s not only where you are that counts towards our happiness, but being able to make the most of it.