Simply melting the ice

Several years ago I had the privilege of experiencing a woman melt the ice in the hearts of people in her midst with the simplest of gestures. On a Monday morning, I arrived at a bus station at the bottom of Mt. Washington in the heart of LA. The streets were fairly vacant with the exception of an older woman sitting at the bus stop. I greeted her and inquired if she knew much about the bus schedules. She glared at me as I asked her about what bus would take me to the train station and after sizing me up, she barked out the bus number. Her expression made it clear that no further inquiries would be welcome.

The bus arrived and we both boarded. At the door I asked the bus driver what the trip would cost. He tersely informed me that it was a dollar and he did not make change. I asked a woman sitting by the entrance if there was any chance she had changed. Clearly annoyed by my request and with much ado, she handed me change for my $5 dollar bill, along with a sneer.

I sat down in a seat and took in the people around me contemplating the hostility. We rode in silence as the bus filled. A Chinese woman boarded the bus. She had an open face that was a contrast to the others on the bus; she was absolutely beautiful, one of those people whose spirit just shone through, though I wondered if she might be a bit “loco poco”? I was fascinated by her as she smiled broadly and tried to communicate something about the handrail with hand gestures to a fellow rider.

The bus eventually stopped at a busy intersection and people disembarked. The Chinese woman was the last in the line to leave. When she reached the driver she stopped, placed her plastic bags on the floor and fished for something out of the bottom of one of them. The two women I met in the beginning looked on with disgust since the woman appeared to be holding up the bus. She then pulled her hand out of the bag and produced an orange. She handed the orange to the bus driver, bowed slightly and then without looking back, she left.

There was a moment when everything stood still; it was the proverbial, “you could have heard a pin drop”. Within that moment the atmosphere of the bus changed. The driver said something pleasant to the group and people began talking. The woman who had provided me with change asked in a jovial tone if anyone had “played last night’s lottery”. People began chatting back and forth.

I watched the Chinese woman walk through the crowds on the street totally unaware and unassuming even though, without speaking a word, she had just melted the hearts of so many on the bus. When the bus pulled into the train station the driver let me know we had arrived. The first woman got off at the same stop. She was walking away but stopped and turned back toward me; she told me where I’d have to go to get into the station and then wished me a pleasant trip. I was stunned by the transformation I had just witnessed. The Chinese woman was not “loco poco” at all – perhaps she had been the sanest person on that bus. I decided that I wanted to grow to be like that woman.

After meeting Uncle, I knew that he could help me realize my goal; his teachings are geared for individuals to melt the ice in their own hearts so they in turn can assist in the melting of the ice in others. He says that no one can do it alone; we need each other. It starts with a trickle and flows into rivers until it cascades into oceans of hearts changing so that we can transform our lives and heal our planet.

Simply melting the ice written by Alice Miller.