The following is a paraphrase of a short conversation the author had with a man on the train.
HE: May I sit here?
ME: Of course.
HE: I almost missed the train. I had to leave my prayer group early.
ME: Your prayer group?
HE: Yes, I’m a pastor. We start each day by praying together, but this morning I had to leave early to catch the train to Liverpool to get to work on time.
ME: Do you commute every day?
HE: Just twice a week. I’m a street pastor. Liverpool on Tuesdays and Fridays. I do what I can to help those living on the street. And I work at the soup kitchen.
ME: Thanks for doing that. Whatever brought you to be a street pastor?
HE: Do you know what a lasso is?
ME: Yes, I’m an American; I grew up with the TV show The Lone Ranger.
HE: He lassoed me.
ME: Who lassoed you?
I believe that the healing antidote which Jesus used, is just as available to us right here, right now.
HE: God. Let me start at the beginning; I spent 15 years living on the street. Sleeping in doorways. My hand was always out for money, which I promptly spent on liquor. I was drunk all the time. I was filthy. I stank. Then, one day, it was just as if He lassoed me, and brought me home. I ended up wandering into a church. They welcomed me and even sat next to me, something nobody had done for years. I knew that moment I’d spend the rest of my life sober, and that I’d try to help others on the street because I’d still be there too if it weren’t for that day when I was lassoed. God lassoed me and pulled me to Him.
ME: I know firsthand that we often believe ourselves to be outside of God’s care, with all the conclusions that entails, or as one woman told me, “Life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
HE: Yes, I remember believing that.
ME: I’m also learning that our thoughts affect our experience.
HE: Yes. All those years I believed I was a victim of circumstance. I believed I was one of the unlucky ones, and I was scared, and hungry. And thirsty. I really thought only about me. I was far from helping others, and certainly never thought of saving the world.
ME: And look at you now …
HE: Tell me what you do, what you believe.
ME: I’m a Christian Science practitioner. I’d like to think you and I have the same mission.
HE: Oh … Scientology …
ME: No, not Scientology. Christian Science. It’s all based on Jesus’ teachings. From the Bible.
HE: Tell me more.
ME: In Christian Science, we learn that Jesus taught us to know the power of God, Spirit, to heal sickness and to cleanse from sin. If there is one God, and God is good and powerful and true, then the opposite, evil, must be untrue. I believe that the healing antidote that Jesus used, is just as available to us right here, right now because its source is one good God. If I’m honest, I’d have to say that the most important thing about any problem is that, in reality, it isn’t. Never was, and never will be. In all truthfulness, God has been, and always will be, in control.
HE: Tell me more.
The first thing I ever learned in Christian Science Sunday School was that God is everywhere.
ME: Let me give you an example. A few years ago I canoed the Rhine River. Late one afternoon I unloaded some backpacks onto the bank, and before I could get out of the boat, I was swept by the strong current toward the Rhine Fall, the largest waterfall in Europe. I could see my canoe was headed toward plunging over the Fall, so I leaped from the boat and grabbed an overhanging branch by a dock.
The power of the river was so swift that it pinned me under the dock, with just one arm, and my head, out of the water. I panicked. I began to scream for help. Trouble was, the Rhine Fall is in a lovely, lonely, unpopulated area, and there was nobody in sight.
The first thing I ever learned in Christian Science Sunday School was that God is everywhere. Hanging on to that branch, I reasoned that everywhere meant right here, even beside me, under me, all around me. I changed my thought, my belief, and was immediately calm.
There was a mountain next to the Rhine Fall, and I saw a tiny speck (a man) walking slowly down the mountain. As he approached the river, he couldn’t see me pinned under the dock, but he heard my call for help, walked out on the dock, reached down and pulled me up by the one arm holding the branch, set me on my feet, and turned and walked away as I sputtered, and shivered, and thanked him.
The next day, when the police took me to the bottom of the falls to gather any belongings that might, just might, have made it to shore, there were my food bags, my clothes, my small daypack with money and passport, and my red canoe. I guess you could say that was my lasso experience.
HE: God is good. It all seems natural that God is right here with us. Always.
ME: I’m learning that God’s mighty works are “not supernatural, but supremely natural” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. xi).
HE: [train stops] This is my station. “Put your candle on a candlestick!” (see Matthew 5:15). All the best to you in your work, sister.
ME: And to you, brother …
Cate Vicent is a Christian Science practitioner and lives in Torrington, England.
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