Bus-Stop Theology

Sandra Dustson wrote this poem several years ago, and used it as a basis for a house-group discussion on “Bus Stop Theology”. Enjoy reading the poem and the discussion at the end.

THE BUS STATION.

The bus station
Is the starting point
Social injustice
incarnate.
Weary low paid workers
At the end of long, unappreciated days
Waiting in a queue, ever more wearily
For a bus
Driven by a driver
Weary too and low paid
Yet still with
Humour patience and concern
(the odd lapse is surely
to be forgiven)

In the bus station too
Are all those
Always at the end of every queue.
Ten minutes listening
To the cries of despair
In all their various guises
And you want to run a mile
Which is why the metro passengers
Scurry through
Averting eyes.

On the bus
People talk and share
Or brood and think
Or watch the world.
The driver
Manoeuvres bus and traffic
And every kind of eventuality
Preventing punctuality.

Cars go their separate ways
With one passenger
In his or her own world
Generally of rage at being slowed down
At a pedestrian crossing
Or red light.
Important lives must not be delayed
Not even for the fragile life of one small child
Unprotected by Volvo metal.
And if not rage
Then lulled
By their own individual tape
To ignorance of unblessed blissfulness
Of their common humanity
With those for whom
The bus station is
The starting and sometimes
The final point.

Let’s shout
All change
Together.

The ideas in the poem and behind ideas for a ‘Bus stop theology’  are somewhat similar.

I have long been interested in transport issues from both an environmental and social perspective.  Transport for most of us most of the time is a means to an end and so we get frustrated when we are delayed.  Sometimes however I think we need to think in a different way about this.   Jesus was always being ‘delayed’ on his journeys and seemed to think that was what ministry involved.  Clearly we live in very different context but traveling on buses teaches us I think something of the importance of sometimes at least being delayed, and waiting patiently. It is about a preparedness to take notice of what and who is around us, a kind of ‘mindfulness’ to reassess priorities.  Does God go at the pace of the fastest or those left behind?  ‘Thy years are sure and glad and slow’ is a line from a lovely hymn. o

In terms of social issues who are fellow bus passengers and what are their lives like?   Do we know how much bus drivers are paid?  It is better now than when I wrote this originally several years ago but I think is still a weekly wage rather than annual salary as compared with train and tram drivers.

There are two main issues re bus travel, one the environmental concern to get people out of cars, the other to meet the needs of those without cars, many of whom live on outlying estates and may have early or late shift work.  The routes and numbers of times buses stop may be different for the two groups.  Those used to car travel want direct, quick journeys whilst those who are physically frail, have several young children, are carrying heavy shopping and/or live on estates off main routes need a different kind of service.  How do we become aware of each other’s needs?  Surely that is important and is even more so when the decisions about services are made by those who may have cars and are always in a hurry.  Loving our neighbour is about thoughtfulness about such practical considerations and requires us to be aware of each other in a truly compassionate way.

At environmental level what is most environmentally friendly does not always rule out car use but car sharing and car clubs could be encouraged more.  Lots of cars are stationary most of the day but still use precious land. Learning to drive a car is however a huge expense which many families cannot afford.  How do we address that?  Is the car the nearest we have to a modern idol, a metal god before which everything and everyone must bow?

Travelling by car can lead to a faster pace of life, living further away from work and taking more journeys.  We do need to slow down for a whole variety of reasons, safety especially of young children, our health both physical and mental, the wellbeing of creatures with whom we share this planet and indeed the planet itself.  This needs a lot of rethinking which includes repentance but not guilt tripping.   We are as Brian Wren’s hymn puts it, ‘by social forces swept along’. If we address both our own choices and the choices as a society we make then love might indeed have a greater scope to make all things new.

Posted in Transport, Worship Materials

2 comments on “Bus-Stop Theology
  1. jane Young says:

    Hurrah! A kindred spirit!

  2. Gordon Wratten says:

    Just remember that London Transport tube drivers are paid over £40K per year. It should also be remembered that all drivers have to be paid the national minimum wage or in some cases the national minimum living wage.

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