CCU News / Opinion / World

Life on the Light Rail – Josh

I have always been captivated by people’s stories. When I was young my dad and I would sit on a busy street corner eating ice cream and we would spend hours on end just watching people. We would try to guess their story. Were they happily married? Did they work in the city? Did they grow up on a farm? Were they Colorado natives? I was always trying to find the story behind the smiles. This year I have taken the time to venture onto the light rail to try to capture the stories of the people who fill the light rail seats. Everyone has a story, but not everyone is willing to listen. I’m listening.


I was sitting on the Light Rail with my World Religions textbook in hand headed to a coffee shop to study. A young man sat in the seat in front of me and quickly started up a conversation. He began asking me where I went to school, what I was studying, what I wanted to do in the future, you know, all the basic questions that college students get asked. As we sparked up a conversation, he told me that he too was studying religion. He was a current student at Boulder’s private Buddhist University, Naropa, where he was getting his graduates in Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal counseling. He followed that statement by saying, “I consider myself to be a Jewish-Buddhist who is enlightened with all other religions.” I knew in that moment this was a divine encounter from the Lord. I had just spent the previous weeks diving into the history and theology of both Judaism and Buddhism, and I was excited to dive into a conversation with him.

This Jewish-Buddhist’s name is Josh. Within 5 minutes of our conversation Josh had told me that he had an extreme case of ADHD and had been addicted to marijuana and alcohol for five years. However, he had become sober after his partner had overdosed and passed away two years ago. As Josh began to tell me his story, I heard God say, “focus on your similarities, not your differences.”

This conversation quickly became so much bigger than religion. I had also lost one of my best friends to suicide two years ago. As Josh and I connected through our pain he asked me, “what has helped you walk through the grieving process?” I stopped for a minute, thinking about the best way to articulate my words, took a deep breath and said, “God. I was so mad at Him for so long. How could He let this happen? Why couldn’t He just silence the demons in my friend’s head? Why didn’t He save him? One day I decided to take all these questions to God in prayer, and I quickly realized that waiting for all of these questions to get answered was actually hindering my grieving process. So, I began to pray a lot, and God healed parts of my heart that I didn’t even know were hurting.”

As I spoke, I was afraid Josh would shut off and discount everything I had to say. However, he began to cry. Through his tears he muttered, “I don’t actually remember the last time I prayed. I meditate every day to help clear my head, but I still feel like I am sitting in my grief.” The Light Rail was approaching Union Station and I asked Josh if he wanted to pray together. Josh joked and said, “That is a ballsy thing to ask a Jewish-Buddhist, but yes, I would love that.” As I began to pray for his heart, mind, and soul I felt the Holy Spirit settle upon Him.

As we both got off the Light Rail and went our separate ways, I just couldn’t help but thank God for letting me be a small voice in Josh’s life. Josh might not ever step foot into a Church, and he might not ever become a Christian, but that wasn’t my goal. At the end of the day, I think I needed to hear Josh’s story as much as he needed to hear mine.

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