It was a small scene in a much larger dream that has caught my imagination today.
The larger dream involved driving the car over a patch of sandy ground with lots of marram grass to cut a corner that had a traffic light. I have seen people on bikes cut corners all the time, but not people in cars! The car got stuck in sand and I had to get the bus.
I was in Nairn and the last bus to Inverness had long gone. There was a bus beside the stop and the bus driver leaned out of the window to tell me he was going to Tore on the Black Isle. For those that know our local area, the geography at this point breaks down. To get from Nairn to Tore one would have to go through Inverness – but you know what dreams are like. He told me that there were busses every half hour from Tore to Inverness.
I got on the bus, bought my ticket and sat down.
“So, you are trying to get to Inverness? There are busses from Tore to Inverness every half hour.” It was a nice young man standing next to me. He was repeating basically what the driver had told me.
“You’ll have a half hour wait,” said another passenger. He was quite a burly chap. “If you visit the Tore Arms bar, you have time to hear my band play.”
“He’s the drummer,” added another voice.
“It’s a rotten band, mind…”
The banter on the bus was really friendly. It turned out a woman on the bus was in charge of the light buffet and began asking people to do little things for her like collect the paper plates and plastic spoons from the shop. She also checked whether anyone minded but she was planning the use the spicy recipe for the chicken drumsticks.
A boy on the bus asked if anyone could help him with his homework.
It wasn’t a quiet bus. No one disappeared behind a newspaper or a book cover. No one searched for an empty seat all by themselves. It was a collection of people who knew each other well to the point of teasing one another.
We piled off the bus at Tore, outside the Tore Arms bar. There was a collection of people milling around outside. Some of them were the band members with their musical instruments in cases. They waved to the bus driver as he left.
There was lots of conversation beside the door of the Tore Arms bar. No one seemed to be in a hurry to set up for the band or sort the buffet. They stood beside the door and chatted. It was not a warm night, but with all the people by the door, it felt warm.
Someone spotted the Inverness bus. It had a bit of a circuit to do before it came back to the bus stop which wasn’t outside the bar, but a short walk away.
“We’ll walk you the bus stop,” said the first man that spoke to me. At some point I had acquired a cat and a seven year old boy. Someone picked up the cat. Another man picked up the boy and we all started the journey to the bus stop.
I woke up at this point. I felt a little bereft. I wanted my journey to the bus stop. I wanted to stay in the company of my new found friends.
Before I had even begun to puzzle out some kind of interpretation, those words that instantly came to mind were “It’s all about the journey”.
The word “journey” seems to be tainted with the reality show experience and contestants talking about what they learned along the way or what they will take with them as they get voted out. This was not like that.
The friendliness and familiarity of the people on the bus reminded me of my home church. We are a very small church, but much like a family. I don’t have my own teenage daughters so I count it a privilege when a young girl tells me about her growing pains. I sit beside another young girl dissecting poems and counting syllables.
Throughout life there are people who share a part of our journey. Some walk beside us, or sit on the bus with us, for longer than others. For some, I think we can make that journey quite unpleasant or a bit of struggle. Other times, we make the journey a welcoming and comfortable one. We include rather than exclude people.
Too often I am the person disappearing behind the newspaper, isolating myself. By doing so I miss those opportunities to journey beside someone for a while. The words I could have said to encourage them were never spoken. We continue to travel in our lonely orbits and that was never God’s intention.
I time to fold the newspaper and put it away. It’s time to start telling people about the band at the Tore Arms bar, warn them about the spicy chicken drumsticks and ask them to help us with our homework.