week after week, month after month we faithfully rode the Sunday
Bus. Every week we'd see the same riders. We'd all
pull into the "park 'n ride" at about the same time. In
fact it became noticeable over the years who would arrive early
and who'd always be late. Year after year we got to know
the riders by their cars and their regular parking spots just as
they had regular seats on the bus and could be expected to be
seen week after week in those same seats---there'd be snickers
if any dared deviate from the familiar.
arrive just as the bus doors opened, and some would routinely
arrive after the ride commenced---after the announcements were
made and the weekly itinerary was given to each rider.
get dressed up for the weekly ride while others would wear
casual clothes. Important visitors would always be dressed
in suits and so in order to honour them, the men and boys in our
family wore suits and dress shirts and ties and we ladies always
wore our prettiest dresses---especially the little girls.
It was imperative that we looked our best no matter how good or
bad we felt---no matter what sort of situation we were facing.
It was part of the program to appear happy and well adjusted and
so, the externals were given extra attention. We all
thought it was honouring to wear our best clothing each week and
so no matter what, that's what we did. Most of the other
riders did the same, although there were many who seemed to be
part of a trendy counter culture who dared to wear jeans on the
bus. A smile is imperative for the bus ride, though we did
experience times of genuine tears. Occasionally riders do
reveal their hearts and a measure of transparency.
It's sad to
me now, that we never got to know many of the riders really
well. Worse, that we were content to consider superficial
knowledge as constituting "friendship" and familiarity.
But that's the nature of bus rides. The riders don't go on
the trip to get to know the other passengers, to really become
family with them; they take the trip because they're programmed
to do so and because they have that weekly appointment to keep.
It seems as though they're afraid they'll lose their bus passes
if they don't hop on the bus every time the doors are open.
the thrill when we got a bigger bus with more seats and with
more doors... double side-doors for more people to enter and
exit with ease. This enables more people to ride and
to come and go virtually unnoticed. The bigger bus
is more enticing to people who don't ordinarily like bus rides
or for those who have never ridden the bus before, there is a
measure of anonymity in a large bus. Plus, it seems the
larger the bus, the better the sound system and new riders
especially like that.
greetings satisfy the need for fellowship---for a moment, and
then that familiar disillusionment---a sort of emptiness returns
and the familiar longing for genuine friendship and camaraderie
(or even "like-mindedness" if that were possible) returns.
But amidst the hustle and bustle of getting on the bus and into
the seats each week, the intimacy needed for such fellowship is
prevented by the scheduled ride and forward facing seats.
another part of the ride. The bus takes off each week at
11:00 whether the riders are all on the bus or not.
There are some "core" riders and they tend to sit up close to
the driver so they can better hear the driver and watch
the scenery and then there are those who invariably sit in the
back of the bus and chatter through the whole excursion---though
they'd never dream of staying home and chatting with those same
friends on the phone or (gasp) having them over for a good long
visit---that might be too intrusive to the preferred anonymity!
isn't needed each week because the bus runs on tradition---it
needs little new or fresh power in order to keep the course---in
fact, since one man makes most all the decisions for the ride,
he can either introduce a new route or take the old one over and
over and over. And because so many of the riders are
unfamiliar with the road, they don't worry about where he's
taking them---it's just a bus ride after all and he's the
driver: he ought to know where they're going and they don't seem
to mind him just taking them there---they're not staying anyway,
so they just put up with it for the sake of the ride!
experienced riders sort of poke fun at the familiarity of it all
and they're even sort of apathetic but they don't grieve over
the apathy because they just tune-in the radio on the way home
from the park 'n ride and get some fresh bread from some other
bus driver or they read stacks of books that give instructions
they can carry out on their own. They seldom share with
the other riders the things they're learning in their lives, new
roads they're discovering or blessings they've experienced.
And rarely, if ever, does any "ordinary" rider drive the bus.
Somehow, it's just not acceptable to have an ordinary, unskilled
or unlicensed rider take the wheel and drive for a week or even
for a brief moment, even though there are a few riders bursting
with skill or zeal or insight regarding the voyage and would
love an opportunity to share about the journey or even share in
the direction of one of the trips.
after week the riders file in and file out: never realizing the
bus never actually goes anywhere; but always, deep down, longing
for more... something that will fill that void. Deep down
they know the bus ride never satisfies but they don't know what
else to do---they don't know where else to go and can't imagine
doing anything different than what they've... always... done.