WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

The Invisible Thread

By Nathan Ryan

“Maybe the purpose of being here, wherever we are, is to increase the durability and occasion of love among and between peoples.”
—June Jordan

I don’t have any particular affinity for school buses. I don’t hate them; I just don’t feel any way about them.

A black-and-white photo, taken from above, of the photographer's legs outstreched over water, and his young son nestled on top of his legs.

My toddler, on the other hand, LOVES them. I mean, really really loves them. He has a diecast toy bus, banged up and missing its doors and wheels, that he carries around with him. He looks out his bedroom window in desperate hope that one will come down our street. For as long as he could make sounds he would squeal with delight when he saw one. Over time, “buuuuu” has transformed to “school bus.”

I find myself seeking them out even when he isn’t around. I turn my head when I hear those distant screeching brakes. I keep fleeting mental notes of which ones I’ve seen and where.

Why do I do this? It’s not because of the buses themselves. I don’t particularly care about them. I do it out of subconscious instinct. I do it because I love my son. It makes him happy, and I like seeing things that make him happy.

I have not argued with him about the carbon output of poorly maintained buses. I have not discussed the problems of overfilled underfunded schools. I have simply grown to notice a thing that brings him joy. Doing that brings me joy.

Sometimes love is simply letting someone else like what they like. It’s the invisible thread that tethers your heart to someone dear through something as mundane as a school bus. This thread will transcend my mortality. It transcends intellectual discourse. The thread—between me and my son; between any of us who searches for what brings joy to another person—exists because we love.


God, please help us recognize the threads of love that connect us to our ancestors and to sew new threads for future generations. May we know how lovingly interconnected we are with you and each other.

About the Author

Nathan Ryan

Rev. Nathan Ryan was called in November 2020 as the Senior Minister of the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge. A Louisiana native, Nathan makes a mean red beans & rice, and believes that good food goes a long way toward world peace.


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