How I prayed on my commuter train
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
For several years I often commuted to downtown Chicago on the el train, from my home in a suburb.
On the route my train took, we passed through a part of the city where there was a great deal of poverty, homelessness, illegal drug use, and violence. Many of my own neighbors refused to ride this train out of fear. I'd had no problems, however, and even prided myself on being street-smart. I also only rode in daylight hours, when there were many other people on board.
One day, I got on the train in Chicago to go home. I sat down by myself, next to a window. As usual, there were a number of other passengers, and everything seemed normal - until the train made its first stop in that impoverished area.
When the doors opened, a tall, messy young man got on. He was cursing loudly and continually - nearly shouting. He was enraged and seemed disoriented. And he was threatening to kill someone he thought had hurt him.
Before I could even get a good look at him, he sat down right next to me.
He continued raging, and by now all other conversation in the train car had totally stopped. There was no conductor on this train, and the engineer was in the front, several cars up. Some of the passengers were staring at the man, obviously frightened. Everyone seemed frozen in place.
For a moment, I felt afraid, also. Just being street-smart wasn't going to be enough. I knew that I had to pray. In this situation, that meant considering what I knew to be true of this man, as well as of all of us on the train. Despite the ferocious stream of words from my left side, I turned my head and looked out the window as the train sped on.
I began my prayer by thanking God. Thanking Him for making everything in His creation "very good" - something stated in the first chapter of the Bible's book of Genesis (1:31). God saw this man as good. He saw everyone else on the train as good. I had no reason to fear a child of God, and neither did any of the other passengers.
I also knew from reading Genesis that God made all of us in His image (see 1:27). And I knew from being familiar with the teachings of Christ Jesus that God is a loving God. Love is a name that's synonymous with God, according to what I'd read in the Christian Science textbook ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy). So that meant that we were all made in the image of Love.
God being omnipotent, Love was the only reality - there could be no rage, and thus no need for frightened reaction to it. None of God's children could harm one another; that young man was as protected from causing harm as we were from being harmed.
As I continued looking out the window and praying, I saw the old, boarded-up buildings - some burned out, with their windows gone. Maybe this man knew the struggle of living in a place like that. I thought perhaps he was feeling unloved and without any direction. But I realized that God loved him. God had a place for him. Right then God was loving him, and directing him to start finding that proper place. We all have from God the right to a sense of peace and to a place where we belong.
Suddenly I realized that the man had become quiet. At the very next stop he got up and left the train calmly.
I looked at the other passengers' faces. They looked relieved. Some were staring at me curiously. Gradually, people started talking to each other again.
I felt we had all been protected from any dangerous actions or responses. And this most certainly included that man. I thanked God for showing me His care for all of us on that train. We were loved and protected because we were all His children.
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. Isaiah 45:22