Crying With an Atheist at the Bus Stop
Dropping off my uncle at a Greyhound bus station several years ago, I noticed a young woman in her early twenties. Actually, first, I noticed her hat. A cocky little round-brimmed black hat, she carried it off fabulously. Then I noticed her eyes.
She was sad, tears welling up, as she straddled her bags outside of the lobby. I respectfully tried to give her space and privacy, looking away deferentially. Minutes passed though and her tears became larger and soon she was sobbing. Alone, on the front pavement by the street, she cried.
That undid me. Walking over to her, I respectfully asked her if she was okay. The woman mumbled something, shook her head and wept some more. Leaning down on my knees, touching her hand, I asked her if I could hug her. She laughed, nodding, and cried some more as we hugged.
“Do you want to talk?” I asked, and we did for over an hour. My uncle’s bus had long since driven away. My two kids played patiently on the sloped sidewalk nearby, as traffic roared by a dozen yards away. And we talked.
There was a boy, and a mom, and the hospital, and treatment. Hard situations without easy fixes. I listened, asked questions, and listened some more. I shared too, and asked if I could pray with her right here in the parking lot.
“I’m an atheist,” she said. With respect and unchanged care, we spoke some more. I asked questions, she asked questions, and she asked me to, yes, please, pray for her and her friend in that situation. Humbly, joyfully, I did.
By now, my children had run out of things to do on a cement sidewalk and parking lot. Watching with serious eyes, though, they were patient as they heard us talking. I hugged my jaunty-hatted young friend again, and my kids and I drove away.
She emailed me later that week! We exchanged a few emails, asking respectful questions back and forth. “Thank you for your openness and kindness,” she wrote.
Our emails slacked off and it’s been years since we’ve talked now. She comes to mind now though and I pray for her, wondering how she is doing.
Join me in my next post for one of the great questions she asked, and my humble stab at it.
What conversations stick in your brain? Who are you remembering and praying for right now?