Open Your Palm

I recently heard this story of a crosstown New York City bus stuck in rush hour traffic. Everyone on the bus was cold, annoyed and soul-weary. The minimal exchanges of words were curt, eyes cast to the floor and postures slumped.

There are just some days when it is just plain hard to be human. Our spirits struggle under the weight of life’s responsibilities and battles. We become diminished versions of ourselves.

On this particular day, the bus driver came on the intercom and said, “It looks like you all are carrying a heavy burden. So this is what I am going to do. At every stop, I am going to open the palm of my hand and you gonna drop your troubles into it. My route takes me right by the Hudson River, and I’ll be sure to drop your worries into the water.” It was as if a spell had lifted.

The moment we realize that we don’t have to carry our humanity (grief, disappointment, heartbreak, fear, anxiety, doubts) on our own, the air changes, our shoulders relax, and a much needed breath is taken. Suddenly, we have hope again.

True to his word, at the next stop, the bus driver opened his palm. As people got off the bus they mimed dropping something into his hand. Some giggled, others wept. The same thing happened at the next stop and the next, all the way to the river.

I imagine no one on that crosstown bus could tell you the bus driver’s name but he or she will never forget the opened hand as they stepped off the bus…..changed.

The bus driver wasn’t famous, a spiritual guru, or even rewarded for his spontaneous offering of kindness. He was just one in a sea of millions who saw an opportunity to offer a glimmer of light in a corner of darkness. That bus driver reminds me of the “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux who believed grace was manifested in the simple and ordinary details of life. The smallest gestures done with great love have the power to transform a moment, a very life.

That bus driver now goes by another name: Earth Angel.

I challenge you and myself to have a “bus driver” moment sometime during these Holidays. Find a place, a person, a situation where you can offer some light, lift a chin, speak a word of hope and for even a brief moment carry the burden of another’s humanity in the palm of your hand.

Let’s make this a “palms open” Christmas!

Live in Hope,



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