Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Communion on the Train

Just over two years ago, in the month before my divorce was finalized I was taking the train to Michigan. This train had a dinning car and I was seated for dinner next to an older gentleman who was taking a trip alone that he had planned to take with his wife, who recently passed away. He had asked if I was married and I fumbled out that I was separated, or divorcing.

He nodded his head. As we finished the meal. He remarked, “You know what I miss most?” I looked up politely, assuming he was going to make a wisecrack about our dinner. “I hate eating alone,” he said.

I felt my throat tighten and I knew he has touched a nerve with me. I wanted to make a chatty remark and move on, but was afraid if I speak my tears will find their release. Instead I met his eyes and nod.

I looked down at the plastic fork and think, “This man deserves more than to share his deepest feelings with a total stranger while using disposal utensils. Hell, I deserve more than that too.” Yet here we are. Two men, without wives, breaking bread together. Alone . . . but not really. He had told me earlier he was Episcopalian.

“I don’t know how people get through a crisis without faith” he said.

“Is it faith, or the faith community” I wonder to myself. (As if faith can be separated from its community.)

Perhaps I am the one who is feeling like a disposable utensils right now. A spork perhaps?

“Do this in remembrance of me” I think as I sip the Sierra Mist in my glass. I have no idea how to make this man feel better, or what to say, I just know I need to be present with him. I think that is what he needs, or is it me, or . . . does it matter?