Last day here in da Bronx before heading down South for continuing adventures, and I’m taking some time for reflection. Incredible things, grace, has been flowing here and although my life often seems to me to be magic, I don’t ever seem to get used to it.
And certainly not when magic happens on the subway…
After three days of re-sitting an amazing Reiki III (teacher training) class with my teacher Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki (and a quick stop at musical The Book of Mormon omg), Sunday night I was taking the uptown Number 1 train back to the Bronx from midtown Manhattan.
As the theaters had all just let out, there were lots of people on the subway car, but as we headed North the crowd started to thin out.
Which is about when I heard the screaming.
At the other end of the car from where I was sitting, there was a woman YELLING HER HEAD OFF.
The gist of her rant was clear: she was asking two white girls why the hell they were on the train and telling them they better give me some goddam money.
The woman who was screaming was probably about my age (timeless lol) and the effect of her epithets on the two young women was clear: they were squirming and furously trying not to look at her: diffcult, because she was sitting directly opposite her. Soon, a nice black guy interceded on their behalf, attracting the ire of crazy lady on HIS head, which shifted to something angry and musical like: “Nigguh, mind your own business, you faggot!”
The girls got off at the next stop but that was okay: the lady had forgotten all about them in her anger at the black man who had sided with “them”… and now I was the only example of “them” left in the subway car.
During this time I was witnessing almost as if I were elsewhere. I saw the young girls and remembered feeling like that at different points in what seems like another lifetime. So I was glad when the kindly man deflected the attention of crazy lady, but sad the ranting continued.
Frankly, I was also surprised that crazy lady had pulled the race card… I never feel that energy anymore in New York, I thought that was behind us. In fact, I think she just screamed that at them because maybe it seemed like a good tack to take to get the girls to UP some money.
ANYhow, I noted happily, too, that she was not sitting near me. When I was riding the subways all the time back in the day, I had always seemed to attract the crazies … er, the troubled spirits.
But just as I was appreciating that, lo and behold, the spirited lady got up and walked down to “my” end of the subway car, all the while shouting at the man gay slurs (since je was black she couldn’t use that race card) … and then she sat down across from me.
Now since the fracas had begun, I had decided to work on practicing what we had practiced all weekend in Reiki class: going into a space of no separation, into the space of spiritual energy that the system of Reiki can help us move into easily: a space of healing and calm, peaceful energy. For all concerned. (Including me lol.)
So I had my eyes closed when the woman sat down, but from the sound of it there was no doubt: she had sat down almost exactly opposite me.
At that moment, I remembered that when we set an intention, often the Universe TESTS it: and that my intention to “be Reiki”, to stay in that space of spiritual energy was being put to the test straight away. It almost made me laugh… test well-chosen!
To be clear: in the past long ago, I might have interceded, got into a shouting match or worse (I was crazy too i guess lol.)
Then in the more recent past, I would’ve probably left the subway car at the first signs of trouble, heading to a more peaceful place.
And even five days ago, I would have at least shut down energetically, snapping CLOSED like a fan.
But here I saw this opportunity to try something different instead: to stay OPEN, seeing if it is possible to use the practice of the system of Reiki to ease such a situation.
And what happend?
Things began to calm down.
The crazy lady finally stopped yelling at the kindly man (who had gotten off well before, but that hadn’t diminished her outrage with him.)
Instead, she began stridently addressing (but not yelling at) the latino guy sitting to her right, asking him for money too. But not shouting now, instead explaining that she needed more beer and had been up for two days.
As for the gentlement, he to stayed calm; he was softspoken with her and wished her well when he left (it really is a LONNNNNG trip up to 231st Street in da Bronx, with plenty of time for a whole cast of characters to enter or leave the scene lol.) And as he left she called after him for money, but not in a confrontational way, more like she was just giving it a shot…
Then it was just her and me. It felt like one of those moments, like at the OK Corral or something.
I kept my eyes closed and stayed in that space for that last stretch before my stop. I felt her attention, curious, on me. And unlike any other time when that happend on the subway in my life, I stayed open.
She continued to mutter about needing money, but mostly to herself… two minutes of this and then the a nouncement “NEXT STOP: 231st Street.”
I opened my eyes and stood at the same time as she did, and we landed face to face.
Our eyes met, silence.
And then she said simply, “I’m tired.” Me; “Me too. It;s been a long day.” Her: “Yeah.” Me: “Time to go home and get some rest.” Her: “Yeah.”
We stepped off the train together, two crazy ladies, two sisters.
She turned to me: “I seen you before, right? I know you?” Me “Yep.”
Her: “Thought so. ‘night.”
As she walked toward the other turnstile, I headed down the stairs, carefully; I couldn’t see through the tears.
Though I had never seen the woman before, I knew that my answer, which had risen unbidden from somewhere deep, was truthful.
We had indeed met – belonged together even – in that Reiki space. And she felt, spoke of, and reminded me of it.
Gratitude from New York…
Kathryn Hudson is a Shinpiden graduate of the International House of Reiki