God Bless BART

She entered the BART train and several eyes were drawn to her. Not because of her stature, she was a mere five feet, or because of her beauty, the deep map of wrinkles reflected a hard lived life. She emitted an aura, a presence, somewhat of an invisible force field encircling her. She sat facing me, positioning her frayed nylon grocery bag with the unstable rolly wheels that awkwardly turn this way and that in between her thick ankles hidden by sagging, opaque, practical pantyhose.

I tried not to stare but I couldn’t help watching this woman with the too bright, too thick, too pasty hot pink lipstick covering not only her lips but the skin just beyond as well. Her fingers caressed the long strand of smooth round beads in her hand as her bright lips began chanting. The words poured forth in an abrasive, staccato Spanish; my mind raced to translate. “God…sky…rain…earth…sun…people…Jesus…” My eyes glossed over the words in my magazine that I wasn’t reading. I listened more intently. What I assumed was a prayer ended and without a pause what I recognized, by words and by cadence, to be the Lord’s Prayer began. Passengers boarded and debarked the train, briefly acknowledging this elderly Latina lady invoking God’s blessing on our BART train.

Her chanting should have annoyed me. She was loud. She was incomprehensible. She was violating the never stated, yet understood, mores for public transportation. As I stood and prepared to exit, gathering my unread magazine and overstuffed purse, a spiritual began. I reluctantly departed the train car, slowly exiting the shadow of her mysticism, entering the world of the mundane once again.

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