Wrapped in Cosmic Hugs

22 Sep

“I realized then that even though I was a tiny speck in an infinite cosmos,

a blip on the timeline of eternity, I was not without purpose.” 

― R.J. AndersonUltraviolet

I once knew a lady who told me her theme for the year was “openness.” Whenever she said it, she would open her hand in front of her like she was trying to feel the rain. I’ve found myself thinking back to that theme as of late, and slowly and subtly embracing it as my own. If I open my eyes to embrace what’s in front of me, listening to my Inner Voice, I am exactly where I should be.

I make eye contact with people on the bus a lot. It’s nothing much, but surprisingly countercultural in our society today. We tend to travel like we’re in our own individual spaces, blissfully unaware that in actuality we all share the same air. My objective is to breathe the communal air, not suffocate in my own box. I’m cool, but I’ve just never been a big box fan. (See what I did there? Okay, moving on.)

In my last subtle attempt to break the social barrier, I made eye contact with an old, eccentric woman wearing a barrette and carrying a painting. It was Tuesday, and I was riding through Shadyside on my way home from Ursuline. I was reading a booklet about The Aging Institute that I had received at a public forum on Alzheimer’s, and when we made eye contact our eyes laughed at the irony of a 22 year old reading a booklet on aging. She made a comment about how she ages with grace, and I accepted her comment as an invitation to move next to her on the bus and begin a conversation.

Philomena O’Dea is the most interesting person I have ever met on a bus. She’s an artist, a photographer and a peacemaker, and has lived and worked in multiple different countries, including Kenya and the Sudan.. She now lives in Pittsburgh and is drawn to organic photography and documentation of the peace movement. After gathering this brief bio and sharing a bit about myself, I watched awestruck as Philomena reached her stop, slipped me her card, and shouted a salutation back to me as she left the bus. As the bus pulled away and I watched her scurry off, I wondered if I had just met The Big Guy in disguise. I looked down at Philomena’s card, nothing more than a photo of a mandala, a quote, and an email address. I stared at the card for awhile, coming the decision that I just had to know more about this woman. Never before had I typed a subject line that read, “I met you on a bus.”


The mandala on the back of Philomena’s business card

Philomena responded the next day, and I wasn’t disappointed. She sent me links to non-profit events, articles, TED talks, and contact information of a few people she thought I would connect with. Her signature read, “cosmic hugs and very best wished to you.” Who says that?!?! Philomena does. Philomena the stranger, Philoemena the bus 64 rider, Philomena my unlikely friend.

It’s the most unusual friendship, and the kind that I like the most. And the kicker is, connecting was easy. All it took was opening my eyes, leaving the box, and learning that no man is an island, or no person rides the bus alone.

I can’t wait to see who I meet this week.


One Response to “Wrapped in Cosmic Hugs”

  1. Annie Hayes September 23, 2013 at 4:38 am #

    Girl, that hit me deep. Thank you for helping me realize that I gotta start opening my hands, too. And then believe that my heart will follow suit. Beautiful, Martha.

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