I had the chance to take a city bus around Minneapolis last week. I stepped onto the bus and right away realized that I had no idea where to put my money. The bus driver noticed my confusion. He looked me in the eye and kindly talked me through the process, then wished me a good day as I walked down the aisle. Right behind me was woman, clearly a regular, who was out of breath from running to catch the bus.
“You’re early,” she said, smiling.
The driver responded with kind laughter, “I just couldn’t wait to see you.”
We stopped every few blocks as we meandered through the city. The driver had this amazing ability to intentionally greet everyone we picked up, while still moving quickly through the route. He had just seconds with each person but found a way to connect with a smile or a greeting. And whether it was a businesswoman in a fancy suit or a man carrying all of his belongings in various bags, each passenger went down the aisle with a smile.
I want to be like that bus driver and make the most of whatever time I have with people. Every May, the reality of time’s quick movement strikes me. Young people are celebrating graduations and getting ready for new adventures. Children are wearing pants three inches off the ground, their parents unwilling to buy new ones until the fall. Our family celebrates so many birthdays. Flowers invite me to linger in the Memorial Garden, remembering beloved ones who now rest in God’s eternal care.
Time marches on, with a speed that sometimes feels cruel. Every spring, I’m reminded that we really don’t have a lot of time with the people who are so dear to us. It’s a precious life we’re given, vulnerable and unpredictable, beautiful and complicated, and oh, so very short.
Perhaps we can all live a bit more like that bus driver, making the most of whatever time we have, not just with people who matter most to us, but also with perfect strangers. The Psalmist encourages us to “teach us to number our days, so that we might gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:1, NKJV). Numbering our days teaches us that each moment is a rare treasure. And with this knowledge, we can find ways to connect, even in those mundane things like conversations over cereal, or laughter while waiting for coffee to brew at work, or time on the road.
As I watched that bus driver, I kept thinking about a blessing I heard first in an Episcopal church, from the poet Henri-Frederic Amiel. The blessing offers just the kind of hope and courage we need in these quickly moving days:
Life is short and we have too little time
to gladden the hearts of those with whom we travel.
So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind.