I suspect I was drawn to Steve for a reason, as I have been drawn to others throughout my Journey. Or, perhaps, them to me.
He sat alone on a packed bus, leaving New Orleans for points north. He didn’t appear to be someone who would have an interesting story, so I sidled up to him, somewhat reluctantly. We ended up talking, non-stop, for three hours.
Steve is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel. He was visiting his grown children, who are spread throughout the country. I asked why a Greyhound Bus, assuming the answer would be cost savings. “I find the bus very meditative,” he said. “It’s a wonderful way to relax and see the country.”
While I could debate the “relaxing” part, I could not argue with Steve’s claim that the bus is a great way to experience the natural beauty of America, truck stops notwithstanding.
Steve turned out to be one of the more fascinating people I met on the Journey. He was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel. His father sent him to live in Israel with an aunt when he was 14. Steve was also a horse lover, having owned and sold his own horse while living on a farm in Eastern Pennsylvania. He ultimately channeled his love of horses into a career. “I went to horse shoeing school in Israel,” he said. “I became one of the most sought after shoers in the country. In fact, I was the personal horse shoer for Ariel Sharon, the former Prime Minister of Israel.”
Imagine, I was sitting next to a celebrity horse shoer! Steve shoed horses for more than 30 years, earning enough money to own a small farm near the Gaza Strip. I asked him if he ever felt threatened, his home near one of the most dangerous strips of land n the world. “Never,” he said. “Everyone with a horse sought me out. I was a friend to Jews, Arabs and Christians alike.”
After a short lull in the conversation, Steve apologized to me, saying that he was going to take a few minutes to meditate. I’m a meditator, have been for many years. I asked him about his practice.
“I meditate five hours every day,” he said. “Meditation saved my life.”
Steve proceeded to tell me that his youngest son died in a snow mobile accident many years ago. He had been dabbling in meditation. The grief over loosing his son drove him deeper into practice. “There is nothing like the grief of losing a child,” he said, “While the pain never goes away, my meditation has helped me to manage my grief, and to get along in the world.”
Steve has practiced with some of the most notable teachers in the world. In fact, once he completes the visits with his children, Steve will depart for India, where he will sit in a silent meditation retreat for 60 days. He is one of a select group of Westerners who are qualified to participate in what is the only 60-day retreat in the world.
He wants to write books about both his horseshoeing experience and meditation, and asked if I knew of an editor. I told him I knew of a few people and we exchanged contact information
He smiled, a man at peace, settled in his seat and closed his eyes in meditation. I followed suit, settling back, breathing slowly, relaxing. On the bus, of all places.