The sky shook its clouds today. Overflowing teardrops fed the earth today. The still green leaves became even greener; the ones that have already been conquered by the fall, took on a brighter yellow or reddish shade.
“Why do we need God and religion?” asked a man today. I stopped all my activities, and I tried to understand the question. I never wondered until now about the reasons for needing The One. But… the second part of the question reminded me of what I saw a few hours ago while on my way back home.
The heavy rain was cleaning the streets. People were waiting at the bus stop, trying to avoid the water showering their clothes; on the one hand by the sky, and on the other hand by the cars that hectically drove by with their rushing drivers, too busy to notice their fellow man.
A few minutes later, minutes that were perceived as light-years, the bus appeared in the distance, bringing a relieved feeling inside the people’s hearts. The bus stopped and the people who were so upset because of the careless drivers, started to crowd one into another, transforming the bus door into a battlefield, where everyone was determined to prove his supremacy over their human fellows. Like many other times in my life, once more I couldn’t stop myself wondering about a very interesting property that the human race has… no matter when someone becomes a victim, the next moment he will be transformed into a tyrant who now has his own victims. Moreover, what always amazes me is the happiness expressed on the faces of the ones who were victimized when suddenly they are transformed into the oppressor.
When the doors of the bus finally succeeded to close, I found myself wondering, how is it possible for so many people to argue at the same time, one with the other. The entire atmosphere reminded me of a story I once read about The Tower of Babel. The crowded bus with its infernal noise brought to my attention the time of Babel, and started to wonder about the real meaning behind the words in the story.
While I was wondering and at the same time trying to detach myself from the restlessness caused by all those people, I saw in a corner sitting in a chair a nice young lady whose head was covered by a handkerchief. I was not sure if my earlier thoughts influenced me, but the attitude of that young woman made me think that she was a very religious person. Soon after, while the bus passed by near a church, her eyes changed like she was praising the Creator and her hands moved forming an airy cross sign.
I wondered about her for a while. Nowadays, people don’t do such gestures outside their homes or their church. She was looking like she did not belong to the crowd, and I admired her for her attitude that seemed to belong to a very educated person.
A few moments later, my eyes looked through the window. The heavy rain was still washing everything in its way. While the bus was waiting for the red traffic light to change, on the crosswalk a very old woman was shuffling her feet, trying to hurry to the other side of the road.
Suddenly she looked in the direction where the bus number was showing, and her face changed like it was a big surprise at what she saw. At that moment the bus was between stop stations, so for a split second she was looking like she didn’t know what to do. When she decided, the traffic light was still red; she placed herself in front of the bus and touching her hands together like in a silent prayer, her eyes almost begged the driver to open the doors for her.
In all that turmoil inside the bus, when everyone was angry and shouting at the rest of their human fellows, the bus driver smiled and peacefully opened the door for the old woman to enter.
Everything that seemingly had transpired, took place in a very short period, between the changing of the traffic light signal; still for me it seemed to be an eternity, and I was watching and listening as though it was an old, slow motion movie.
The moment after the old woman thanked the bus driver, and he replied with a loud and firm voice, “You’re welcome good old woman”.
Somehow, his voice and words stopped the uproar inside the crowded bus. Suddenly everyone remained quiet to see who and where the good old woman was. When people next to the old woman finally noticed her, they protectively freed up the space between them, and she was able to go forward in the bus. The freed up space was as though guiding the good old woman back towards the seats. She soon made her way near the seemingly very religious and educated young lady.
Being certain that the young educated lady would offer her seat to the old woman, I almost stopped paying attention to that scene. But… somehow I noticed that nothing had happened. Trying to understand why the old woman was not already sitting, I saw the young woman’s eyes, and I froze. The eyes that only minutes ago looked as though all the holiness inhabited them, now had the gaze of nothing else than a deep defiance for what the old woman represented.
The observed moment was so intense that I started to wonder what in fact was happening there. I was wondering, how was it possible for those eyes to look so cruel. How is it possible for such a religious and so-called educated young lady to still be sitting in a chair near an old woman who succeeded to bring peace and silence to that crowded and furious bus through only her presence?
It seemed that I was not the only one who was wondering today. The crowded and nervous bus suddenly became filled with wondering people. Only a few moments after, a very old man offered his seat to the old woman and while looking through the window, the young religious and educated lady, again used her right hand to form in the air a beautiful and large cross sign.
No longer wondering about “Why do we need God and religion”, I am NOW really wondering… What has the young religious and educated woman learned from her religion, and what do her ears hear and heart feels from what her God is saying?
Moreover, I am wondering… What is, in fact, a religion?