Gifts

© Trisha Arlin

Blessed One-ness,
I give thanks for the gifts that are mine to give. 

One day,
I walked into a subway car and sat down
on a bench-seat that had just enough room for me. 
Now, I am a wide person,
I take up a bit more space
Than someone who is not a wide person,
And sometimes
I push against someone,
inadvertently,
with my wide self. 
And this time,
apparently I had.

Because the man sitting next to me
made an angry noise and said,

“Well, go ahead and knock into people,
obviously you don’t care.”

Which was weird,
So I watched my reaction.

I heard myself thinking,

screw you buddy,it was an accident,
get over yourself,
what do you want from me,
are you making fun of me because I’m fat
is everybody staring at me because I’m fat,i hate you.

And I wanted to ignore him,
And I wanted to curse him,
And I wanted to sink into the floor.

But then I stopped,
I breathed,
I thought about the man,
I thought about what he was feeling,
and I realized
it had nothing to do with me.
He was someone at a low ebb,
He was fragile,
So fragile that 
me 
squeezing into a seat 
next to him on the subway 
and touching him without noticing
felt like an assault
on his very being. 

I had done nothing to be sorry for,
I was right.
He was wrong.
I turned to him and I said,

“I’m sorry, it was an accident, I didn’t mean to push you, I hope you can forgive me.”  


I didn’t need to be forgiven.

But he needed to forgive me.  

“Humph”, he said, “well okay”. 

And his anger was gone
And so was mine. 
It cost me nothing. 
In fact, it gave me the world. 

Blessed One-ness,

I give thanks for the gift of atonement,*

Which is mine to give so easily.
Amen.



*From Devora Steinmetz’s “From Father To Son”





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