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Ash Wednesday on the Green Line

It was Ash Wednesday on the Green Line in Boston today.

Public transportation became a big part of my life this year. In LA I rode a bus and subway train to work.  In Boston now I do the same.  Often, when staring out the window on the bus or zoning out over the book in my lap, it has occurred to me that I feel so Catholic when ride public transit. Although this has been a recurring observation, I struggle to articulate why it is I feel this way.  What’s so Catholic about riding the bus?

Today this feeling made sense though, at least more than usual.  Soaking wet from the walk to the nearby train stop, I collapsed onto the first dry, stiff plastic seat I spotted.  I was uncomfortable in the bulky, water-proof parka I had hid under outside; its fabric rustled loudly as I moved in the seat. I clumsily tried to find a place for my wet, folded umbrella and struggled to retrieve my book from purse without shaking raindrops from my coat onto everyone around me.  Every moment was awkward, and everyone could see this.  I felt so vulnerable.

At each stop a few more folks entered the train, and they, too, struggled with their coats and umbrellas and heavy, wet clothes. I watched them, and I realized that I was not alone.  And It felt just like Ash Wednesday on that train.  People from every walk of life came together to take refuge there, wearing the signs of their vulnerability–damp, droopy hair styles and rosy cheeks from the cold–like ashes on their foreheads. And we sat there wearing our weaknesses, and being present to everyone else in his or her weaknesses.

It was wet and beautiful: Ash Wednesday on a dreary Saturday morning on the Green Line.

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2 Comments

  1. Maggi says:

    Jess,
    You’re incredible! You have developed such a great writer’s eye. It totally inspires me every time I read one of your keen observations of life, people, transit, whatever.
    love,
    Maggi

  2. Pretty sure I learned it from you, my dear. Love you–

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