Talking to God, aka prayer, was a huge part of my train trip across America. So was listening. As was mulling the Bible – and my very own thoughts.
Mulling one’s own thoughts seems rather risky, but when one has been a mother for 23 years (plus pregnancy), a wife for 28 years (plus engagement), a Christian for 32 years, and a woman for 51 years, it’s time to take the risk.
One of the phrases that I mulled and applied on the trip was: Observe, Don’t Absorb.
Absorber by Nature
I am an absorber by nature. See résumé above.
Several years ago, I began bucking the absorbing trend because there was no sense living if all I am is a conglomeration of othernesses.
I feel badly for those who were caught in the transfer of soul ownership because I didn’t know how to break loose. But I had to break loose or I would just break.
An Experiment in Observation
This trip was an experiment in observation.
Rather than absorbing the lives, moments, feelings, frustrations, poutings, or even joy and happiness of others on the journey, I just watched. Not creepily like a stalker. Just observing, noticing. Noticing and not absorbing. It was quite enjoyable, actually.
Absorbing is for Paper Towels
I had so many fascinating, ponderescent, sometimes confusing, sometimes heartbreaking, both brief and lengthy, conversations with individuals on the tracks and beyond that I could have easily absorbed everyone’s everything.
But absorbing is for paper towels, at least in this context. (Huh? Ok, roll with me. Can I still blame choo-choo lag, as my niecey calls it. 😉 )
Put the Sponge Away
Oh, the sponge was ready to soak up the rejection, but (for the most part) I put the emotional sponge away and put on my observation glasses. Figuratively speaking, although I am so thankful I got new glasses for the trip. Everything looked so crisp!
Notice What You Like
One woman, for example, boarded the $1 bus around the National Mall. (Yah, that was fantastic!) I noticed what I liked: her outfit including boots worked well together, a play of red, white and black.
I even thought how I would like to try a sweater with a white shirt collar and sleeves poking out. When it’s not too hot for two layers in Florida, of course.
Soul Strings (Mostly) Left Untied
The encounter, however, wasn’t all positive, which I won’t get into because even though I wrote it up, it didn’t seem like the right thing to write. So I’ll stick with the (mostly) good news.
Something powerful happened on that bus. Soul strings were (mostly) not tied. I didn’t absorb (mostly). I just observed (mostly).
A Little Absorption (I am still learning)
Coming home, I found to my regret that I had absorbed a little something from her based on her conversation with the bus driver: dissatisfaction with my choices. So I had to work through it and make my own choices again, both renewal of commitment to a few previous choices while renegotiating new ones.
A Lot of Choices
We have a lot of choices in this life. Some are more important than others; some are more Biblically relevant than others; some affect others; some are super silly; and some are quite personal.
What I Learned About Absorbing
We don’t have to absorb others’ choices, imitate their choices, validate their choices or enable their choices, nor do we have to feel badly for not wanting to. We can seek wisdom and make our best guess. The key is:
Whose wisdom are we seeking?
On a broader scale, that applies to many of the issues America is talking about today.
Speaking of choices, the woman in boots wore a red sweater with a white collar and cuffs peeking out. Well … that I might just have to absorb – if the weather ever cools again before I forget I want to make that choice. 🙂
REALITY CHECKS: I am saying all this because what you will see and read in the coming posts are my observations from this trip and how we can make a difference … at home and beyond.
I’m pretty sure the photo I took of the artwork above is by Stuart Davis, on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. However, I took soooo many photos of amazing art, I may have mixed up my artists. Feel free to point out my oops, if I oopsed! 🙂