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Our leader called it a circle-story.

The beginning of the video was about a little boy receiving a gift of soap in a shoebox. The closing focused on that same person as an adult giving a bar of soap to another as one gift item in a shoebox.

That same evening, ten of us packed ourselves into a white van that someone called a bus.

I know much about buses.

When I was in later elementary, then junior high school, my brothers and sisters and I packed ourselves into a church bus and we’d go to camp, church, Vacation Bible School (VBS). Everyone in the bus talked at the same time. The only rule I remember was: Sit down and stay in your seat.

Living in a city at the time, I applied that rule to all city buses and school buses: Stay in your seat until it’s your time to get off at your stop.

I had other concerns during those years. How many more worries could a girl handle? I did not know, but I did not wish to find out. I sat down and stayed in my seat.

During my high school years, I rode a blue bus back and forth from the Arkansas Baptist Home for Children to school in the town of Monticello, Arkansas. The driver laughed and teased, but he wanted us to find a seat, sit down, and stay put.

I think bus drivers like order and no distractions, no uprisings. Can they make that happen? I don’t think so, but they sure can grip a wheel and put on a frowny face if those on the bus act disrespectful.

I recall looking for a seat about midway back from the driver. Maybe I was hiding myself in a cluster of my friends. Surrounded, usually by girls. It must have been my secure place.

It is safe to say buses are solid ground for me.

I haven’t been counting encounters with buses any more than I count waves or peaks of mountains, but I’ve had my share of bus rides.

Now when I look back, it’s all vague like where a house once stood with sheds and outbuildings. Nothing left now but a blue bus loaded with children, somehow still there. It is frozen in time in my mind.

Will it stay with me through the night, through the year, throughout my life? When stressors blow and pound, the memory may lean and lurch, but still be there in my mind. No rust on it.

Tonight my husband drives a white van loaded with children headed home from VBS. I ride shotgun. Children chit-chat back and forth. Girls knot together in the middle. We are dropping them off at their homes on dirt roads. One asks as she exits, Will the bus be running tomorrow night?

Suddenly the night is too big for words. I’m on a blue bus, listening to myself question the driver.

I want to hold the blessing tight, keep it to myself. But I think it belongs to you, too. It just flows through me to you.

It’s grace. It’s a circle-story.


Pat Durmon

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White van used for picking up children for VBS, photographed by Zach Jimerson in August, 2018

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