As I came out of work late the pubs were giving up the first wave of City employees headed home after a quick pint. The flushed faces of youth stood out in start contrast to the back of one who sat just in front of me on the old diesel powered double-decker bus that still rumbles through the streets of London.
The #8 is a great ride. You can skip the real stop sand take advantage of the open platform to alight at just the right spot because you know traffic will always holds everyone up at the entry to the Bank station. Rarely is the bus crowded and tonight was no exception. I scrambled on with the other office workers and found myself behind one that was a poster of one struggling to hold onto hope.
I never did see his face, although everything else about him told a story.
The black tee-shirt had been washed enough that it now was edged in milky-white. It housed shoulders that slumped forward in despair, slightly covered by a stringy salt and pepper pony tail that cascaded backwards as if trying to hide years of struggle and neglect. The smells were intense, so much so that a mother and young child found themselves moving after just a few seconds in the seat in front of him.
He barely moved during our short journey. It was as if he had given up on life; seeking solace with others in the pub. Even the vibrations of the old diesel coupled with the stretches of construction pavement could not bring a lifted head or casual glance.
“Oh listen, dear child—become wise; point your life in the right direction.
Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat.
Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags.” (Proverbs 23.19-25)
Yet all around me the chatting continued without pause or reflection. I said a prayer; that we would both sense God’s hope, live, acceptance and respond.