Saturday, March 17, 2007

The holy man on the train.

I’ve had to work in London this week and usually travel around with my head in a book not taking any notice of the people and places around me. But as part of my quest for enlightenment and to work on continually developing my self I have made a conscious effort to be more open to the world and people around me.

I often travel on the tube when I work in London, which is usually a couple of days every two or three weeks. I find the tube a lonely place with so many people crammed together but trying desperately to look anywhere but at each other. Living in the North of England, near Manchester, I am more used to people striking up conversations with strangers but for some reason the more South you go, the less this is seen as acceptable.

Anyway, the other day I was travelling from Victoria station to Euston station to catch my train back home and was looking around the carriage as the tube rattled along beneath London’s busy streets. It wasn’t that busy but the seats were full and I always prefer to stand as it is only four stops. There were people sat down and only one of other person, an elderly man in a suit, stood at the other end of the carriage.

I then noticed that the elderly man had taken a large crucifix out of his pocket. He then, quietly but very deliberately, blessed the tube carriage and all the people in it three times. Nobody else seemed to notice at first and I wondered if it was only me who could see this man.

He then paused for a while and then did it again three times. More people had seen him this time and looked up nervously trying not to catch his eye. Again he paused and then blessed the carriage thrice. By now everyone had looked up and I could see that they were a little unwary at his intentions.

The train then stopped at the next station and he slipped the crucifix back in his pocket, got off the tube and went on his way. His exit prompted some of the remaining people to laugh and a few began to comment how odd he was and that he must be suffering from mental illness.

I just stood there thinking about how previously this would have been my response too, but not this time. This time I thought how nice it had been that this man had decided to do something for the good of those he meets. He was sharing a part of himself that was obviously of utmost importance to him for the benefit of strangers.

Rather than spend his days engaged in negative activities or worrying about himself, this man had decided to travel around London ‘Blessing’ from afar. No shouting damnation or hysterical preaching – no knocking on doors trying to sell ‘the good word’ – no request for money in return for salvation – just his own lonely journey giving unconditionally.

I wish I had followed him off the train to talk him with him, I am sure his story would have been very interesting. I am sorry I didn’t think quicker and follow the moment by getting of the train to ask him why. But most of all – I regret not stopping him, taking his hand and saying ‘thank you’ for his selfless act that has inspired me further and acted as a pointer in my own journey that by understanding his mission I am on the right path to achieve mine.

There is much we can learn from those that the majority would consider as strange. They have nothing to prove and are not ruled by their own ego. It is clear that they are more attuned with their inner self and reveal themselves without fearing criticism.

Next time you notice the light in another take the time to stop and say hello no matter how strange they seem. It could be worth your while, it could be the sign you have been looking for – it could be me!

Take care and look for signs everywhere.



Aaron said...


What a great story! I, too, have had times when I realized too late that I should have said or done something to show someone my gratitude.

Thanks for this reminder to all of us to keep our eyes peeled for those opportunities, and to see life in a better light in the process.

klm said...

I like this - and you're right. This person was probably more in their authentic self than those who were made uncomfortable on the train, and felt the need to react to this discomfort by judging the one who they perceived as causing it.
As an experiment... why not try doing something that feels right for you on the tube one day after work? Like handing out chocolates? Or flowers? It takes courage to go against the current and challenge what we accept as 'normal', but ultimately, what do we have to fear? If we want the world to change, we must be that change we seek to find.
Recently there was a DJ playing at a tiny corner park on a busy street in my hometown. It was great dance music, and when I happened upon it, everyone was just sitting around listening. So, screwing up my courage and with the help of a buddy, we found a clear spot and busted a move... dancing for about half an hour just for the joy of it. It was immensely liberating. I was still surprised that not one other person felt comfortable enough to get up and join us... we are all so afraid to just express who we are in the moment.
Much joy,

Enhance Life said...

Nice story. Sometimes it amazes me, to see that some people go that extra mile.


Trevor Twining said...

Hello & greetings from from a brother across the pond.

I was reading this post via a link in another blog and I thought to myself, "this is a very masonic, light-searching type of thing to do." Your search for light very much resonated with me.

Imagine my surprise when I read the next article (http://bethechangetreadthepath.blogspot.com/2007/03/welcoming-new-master-march-meeting-at.html). I can't say I was shocked, but I was slightly and pleasantly surprised.

I look forward to future posts and sharing with you on your journey.

Deb said...

Hello Damian,

Perhaps the old man with the
crucifix was not the ~only~
Holy Man on the train...
'takes one to know one'. ;)

Although in the moment you did not
act with the hindsight you wish you
would have, you are doing him and
all of us a service in sharing the story.

I feel the old man's blessing and I in turn can ask that he be blessed.

I love the name of your blog...

For SURE one of my fav quotes. :)

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
by Mahatma Gandhi.

I connected to your
blog from a comment you made
on Slades site.


Damian said...

Wow, what an excellent response.

I'm really glad that I shared that story with you all and that you all made strong enough connections that you left a comment.

To Aaron and Kara-Leah - Many thanks - your continued support is my best inspiration.

To Sham, Debs and Bro. Twining - welcome to the site and hope to see you again.

To you all - Keep up the good work, the work you choose to share is excellent and I keep up with you all.

Take care.


Andy said...

An amazing story, truly wonderful. Perhaps the point was this, to be noticed by one with a heart open among so many closed through fear. Mockery is a vicious, tiny barb used to make that which appears too large to handle considerably smaller, such as faith in a world that does not want faith, or rather, denies the want and the need.

I came to your blog through the blog apocalypse meme. Great stuff. x

klm said...

have just posted this story on Redditt.

as good as it gets said...

Hi, I loved your story. I have just created a link for it on my blog http://railmagic.wordpress.com
Do check it out.

DigitalRich said...

Thanks for participating in the Carnival of the Storytellers! The 9th edition is up and running at:



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