The Curious Bystander

By Rutger Bergstrom

There was to be a meeting of a fraternal organization in southern Sweden. People came from all over Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany -- young and old. The speakers got their papers in order; the organizers saw to it that everything was ready. They were meeting to discuss the realization of brotherhood in a difficult time.

The first day began. People got to know one another. The atmosphere was high, interest was lively, old friends were reunited. There was to be a film shown and the curtain was about to go up, when something happened. One of the guests, an elderly member of the fraternity, became ill. He had to go home at once, but there were no trains and he didn't know how to get home. There would be a train for Stockholm later in the afternoon, . . . but he felt awful.

Nobody really paid much attention to him. Lectures and discussions had begun, and nobody noticed him: why did he have to get sick just when the fun was about to begin . . .

A curious bystander, a quiet little man, saw the whole thing.

"What's wrong?" he asked. "Are you ill?"

The other was in a cold sweat. "Yes. Could you help me look up the trains? I haven't the strength."

"Come with me. We'll head for Boras. If we go at once you can catch the express in an hour."

It all happened very fast. They drove to Boras and arrived just as the train was pulling in from Gothenburg. A hasty farewell from an unknown, but a fellow human being.

The curious bystander returned to the conference. Nobody noticed him: he was not a speaker, nor much of a personality. The speakers, knowledgeable and fluent, spoke of brotherhood and all the audience was happy.

Later, the one who had been ill made inquiries: "Who was it drove me to Boras and helped me when I was ill?"

But nobody knew. Those who thought about it understood that brotherhood is a practical concern which can only be realized at the right moment.

(From Sunrise magazine, October/November 1984. Copyright © 1984 by Theosophical University Press)

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