Hope from the View of a London Bus

by | Apr 4, 2015 | Sabbath


It’s 4:00pm and sun slants over South Kensington, illuminating tall stone buildings and trees growing from squares of dirt in concrete sidewalks. Branches blush with tiny pink blossoms like clouds of cotton candy on the end of cardboard sticks.

From my window seat on the bus, I gaze through smudged fingerprints and watch people scurry through crowded London city streets. Unbuttoned coats flap in the breeze as young and old walk briskly down, across and up. Seats at sidewalk café tables fill around pots of tea, plates of pastries and conversation from a host of dialects.

Smiles from an American stranger seems like a curious intrusion to blank stares with earbuds singing mysteries into private thoughts.

It is the beginning of Easter break and freedom from routine brings a sense of relief.

How do you bring Jesus to people who long for the hope of resurrection but too busy to know it?

Stopping at Onslow Square, a cane pokes through the open door, preceding a man dressed in tie and trench coat. He is slow, balancing two grocery bags in his other hand while teetering in the gap. And the doors begin sliding closed, pushing into his shoulders.

The city doesn’t make time for a crown of white wisdom walking through the wrong door on a bus.

But a stranger in a ball cap and trendy glasses extends his hand, smiles and scans the man’s Oyster card for him.

When the old man is ready to exit, he stands slowly during a standstill in traffic, arches over his possessions and fiddles with the handles on the shopping bags.

And I hold my breath knowing a small jerk from the bus moving forward could injure him severely.

But the stranger stands up, walks behind him and places a hand gently on the shoulder of the trench coat to provide balance.

“Is this where you are getting off,” the old man turns around and asks him.

Shaking the bill of his cap, the stranger makes light conversation, politely saving the old man’s dignity. The doors slide open, the old man steps out and the clink of his cane on the sidewalk creates a rhythm among throngs of people.

Returning to his seat, the stranger sits in front of two children, listening to them talk with a smile on his face.

Can you hear it? Do you see it? Amid the busyness of life flows an undercurrent; a sweet rhythm of slow and steady wisdom breaking through the back door of your life when you least expect it.

Sabbath is a gentle hand on the shoulder to steady you when teetering on the brink of brokenness.

As we wait through darkness for Easter, light is breaking through all around us. Cascades of buds on branches, unbridled kindness and smiles of strangers are signs that the hope of resurrection is always with us. Sometimes it takes sitting still for a few minutes to notice.

Happy Easter Friends!

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  1. Kris Camealy

    This gave me goosebumps, Shelly. How grateful I am for the steadying hand on my shoulder, for my own gentle helpers who step in and steady me when I’m ready to break. You were that for me this week.

    Love you, my friend. This is beautiful.

    • Shelly Miller

      Well, grace is a good thing Kris, thank you. Your comment here is that. I’m thankful for you in my life. Hugging you across the Atlantic. Happy Easter my lovely friend!

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey

    So beautiful, Shelly–so truly beautifully written. You prove that Resurrection knows no boundaries, no country, no particular people. Life springs up everywhere, and God has given you the privilege to notice it, write about it, and indeed to share about it specifically as you begin to share Jesus on the other side of the globe from which you have become accustomed. Maybe part of the reason for the move was so that you would never become accustomed to the astonishment of grace or the undercurrent of wisdom and salvation. I pray that these days of adjustment get easier. Surely, seeing all this beauty and kindness in a world that is too harsh right now will help you in your transition. Happy Easter, dear one!

    • Shelly Miller

      We’ve been so busy Lynn that I’ve missed having the time to notice. That ride on the bus was like a gift God gave me, an answer to the questions in my thoughts. I’m grateful for your kind comment. I’ve been struggling to get my thoughts written down lately and your words feel like a hand on my shoulder. Love you!!

  3. Sharon O

    I love this writing, a gentle thoughtful fellow gave dignity and respect to a senior. Such a story of sweetness.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Sharon. It was an awesome thing to watch in a city of people who are generally reserved. A sweet moment to witness for sure.

  4. pastordt

    This is gorgeous storytelling, Shelly. thank you.

  5. Nancy Ruegg

    Thank you, Shelley, for the poignant reminder that “signs of the hope of resurrection are ALWAYS with us.” Praise God!

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