For those of you who have never been to the Walt Disney World resort, there is a portion of your time that has to be allocated to getting from point A to point B. While there are several options, the one used most commonly is the bus. The bus is not exciting. First thing in the morning or last thing at night it is packed full of people in varying stages of hot, tired, excited, or grumpy. There is a schedule, I’m sure, but I don’t know it. It seems like whatever bus I personally am waiting for is the one that isn’t coming.
Not surprisingly, when you travel to the resort as a large group, you get access to your own bus. With a large enough group, there is a driver who shuttles your party to and from the parks on a pre-arranged schedule. Members of the group who want to go their own way are free to do so. However, if the whole group is booked for a Mickey Breakfast it is much more convenient to move 40 people independently of the regularly scheduled buses. Surprisingly, we ended up on one of these family reunion buses.
We were feeling slightly overwhelmed by the heat and deiced we needed a little pool time. As we walked up to the bus stand we saw the bus for our resort leaving. The girls, feeling hopeful, tried running and waving their arms, but it was too late. As I caught up with them a bus driver asked if we were going to Pop Century. I replied that we were and he said we could get on his bus. We got on the bus, the doors closed, and as we were they only white people on the bus we very quickly realized we were with an extended family at the resort for a reunion. They were delightful. They were funny, and they were happy that we could share the bus ride with them. As were we.
As we listened and talked to them we heard a disturbing story. As they had been boarding a ride in the park, a woman refused to sit next to one of the young men in their group. She became very rude, and referred to him as ‘that’. She wouldn’t sit next to ‘that’. It was unfair to put her with ‘that’, etc. The situation was resolved and I believe the young man got a seat to himself. But the entire family was hurt and offended as they should have been.
So here is why this has stuck with me. This family who had been treated terribly voluntarily shared their bus with three white women they didn’t know so we wouldn’t have to stand out in the heat. For all they knew we could have been just as terrible as the woman who had insulted the member of their family, but they offered us hospitality anyway. They didn’t have to. We never would have known they were going to our resort. I am humbled by the grace of people of color who face hate and persecution every day and still have the ability to reach out a hand in friendship and welcome. I honestly don’t know that I would be that gracious. I would like to think that I would, but honestly I am not that good at turning the other cheek. But when I see and experience for myself that kind of love, I am inspired to be a better person.
I don’t know any of their names, but I want to thank the family who shared with us that day. Not just for a ride to our room, but for an example of forgiveness and grace that will stay with me for a long time.