if only…

Friday afternoon, driving through Maryland’s Montgomery County, heading to a rural conference center for a weekend retreat, I beheld a beatific vision.

A train of four bright yellow buses pulled out of a school parking lot onto the street already engorged with cars, bringing the slow traffic to a near halt.

I chastised myself: Why hadn’t I gotten on the road earlier?

One by one, save one, the buses peeled off the main thoroughfare.


Before I could pass that fourth bus, its rear lights blinked; the telltale flashing stop sign swinging into view.


The doors opened. One student appeared, stepping slowly to the curb. Then another, as slowly. Another, dawdling, turned back to the door, laughing, gesturing.

“Come on!” I muttered. “It’s Friday! Aren’t you all happy school’s over? Don’t you have places to go? Things to do?”

One after another disembarked for what seemed to me to be swiftly mounting, interminable moments.

The bus pulled away. As anxious as I had been to continue my journey, I might have been right behind. But I was mesmerized. Before me stood a group of ten students. One, whose brown face was visible through her hijab, wore a long-sleeved jacket of muted shade and a matching ankle-length dress. Another was attired in rainbow colors, her flouncy skirt barely reaching mid-thigh, her dark tresses, illumined by flaming red highlights, adorned with bright ribbons. Two students were of Asian descent. Two others, African American. Three bore the caramel-hued complexions of mixed parentage. One tall, angular young man with striking blue eyes had a shock of blond hair trimmed in a Mohawk.

The honk of a horn behind me urged me on. Driving by, I cast an appreciative eye at the students who had formed an energetic circle of chatty camaraderie.

Thinking of our ever-in-conflict world, I wondered: If only…

2 thoughts on “if only…

  1. A great reflection Paul….. if only. I don’t know if in our lifetime, there’ll be an “if only” in this world but we can certainly “hope”. At least you got to experience a world of camaraderie, if only for a minute. I too had a similar experience this weekend, and was just as amazed and excited by it as you were by the what I would call “diversity of friendship” getting off the school bus. If only… it would spread to the neighborhoods and nations.


  2. Yes, given the world and life and things as they are, it is remarkable – worthy of remarking – when I see people across cultures and races, nationalities and ethnicities, creeds and religions acknowledging their connectedness in the commonality of their human experience. At times, I find it breath-taking. Yes, if only (we would allow) it spread…


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