Vonlane. Vonlane travels from Austin to Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston. Our Interstate 35
here in Texas is a bear. No one loves to drive I-35. It was my first time taking this particular
bus. Walt was already in Dallas for a gig, so we thought it would be nice not to have two cars to deal with. Amtrak was sold out. Vonlane was 109 bucks, one way. A bit steep, but let me tell you...it was Totally. Worth. It. Plus you get snacks, beverages and a blanket. Oh and the service was awesome too.
Mr. James was on the bus first. I was on the bus second. He said, "Hello" and then said,
"Terrible things going on in this world……those poor people in the Ukraine".
I was so grateful to sit by someone who had the same need to talk about the disbelief and helplessness we were feeling.
My new friend, James is a handsome African American man, who I thought might be in his 60's. He told me that he and his (late) wife had been married for 56 years. 56? Mr. James
then told me he was 78. He was on his way up north to visit his sister, who was in an assisted living facility. He has lost his wife to illness in November of '21 and now was on an extended trip, visiting relatives in Texas. He lives in Michigan, but might be relocating to Texas, to be near family. And to get out of the snow. And to maybe process the grief.
My new friend James is a devout man. He was a Deacon in the church. He had a steady/
normal job for years, but then was called to be in the Ministry. He is a good listener. He
also has this beautiful voice, that made you want to listen deeply to his stories and take notes. I liked how we talked about life in the context of spirituality, meaning and belief in something bright and beautiful and loving, despite the sadness of the world.
His faith is strong. He didn't preach to me, he just exuded it. He asked if I had a home church. I told him that my long walks were my church. He agreed that it was a great way to connect with God; walking and praying. I bet they were really missing him at his home church, while he was reuniting with relatives and friends here in Texas. I can imagine that many folks like to hear James' voice on a Sunday. Calm, present, soft and kind. Mr. James on a bus, who was grieving the loss of his one true love, asked me questions about my life.
That's what a holy man does. Despite his pain, he lets the other person talk. I was just coming out of a few months of the blues, and Mr. James let me talk. He lost his wife. He needed to talk, but he opted to listen to his new friend instead, as we rolled down I-35.
My spirit felt lighter as I got off the bus in Fort Worth. Maybe we are where we are supposed to be, all the time. I vowed to be a better listener. I vowed to be more mindful. I vowed to be less selfish. I hope Mr. James finds peace wherever he lands. I hope he is led to other trains, airplanes and Uber rides, to spread the good news. I hope he continues to create a wave of love, no matter what the circumstances. To listen without judgment. To be the sunshine on a bus, to some lucky girl, who just so happened to sit next to an angel, on her way up to Fort Worth.