I put the phone in my pocket when I get off the train. I need to see the direction of the flow of people and get on my way.
“Watch your step as you exit the train.” It’s the standard recording. I step out of the car and into the stream, the river, the ocean of movement taking a thousand people in the directions they need to go with order. Order is the heartbeat of the city.
A stroller is stuck in the gap, stopping the flow. I don’t look up. I pick up the front of the stroller and lift, a toddler–twenty-five pounds of chestnut hair and a great, big smile. Her grandfather says thank you.
I’m about to nod and dive back into the stream when something soft grabs my hand.
It’s her brother. He grabs me and holds my hand as if I’m his own mother. I help him step off the train. He smiles, looking into my eyes with the deepest kind of love–the love of child for parent or God for humanity.
Pure, unadulterated love.
He does not let go–just stands and smiles. He holds my hand tight. For a moment, I am the center of his universe. In a city of eight million people, we are suddenly alone. I feel electricity.
He is stripping away every layer of “busy,” and “rushing” with a child’s smile. Magic. The city moves around us. There is nothing else in the universe but a boy, and love.
He holds my hand for ten seconds or a lifetime. The universe is stopped just the same. The world, quiet.
Nobody notices we are there. Just a toddler, a grandfather, a boy–and me. A bubble in the space of the city. And then there are two… the boy, and me.
Those big brown eyes filled with love, a hand holding tight, and the purest smile.
I hear diesel breaks squeak on another track and the city rushes back in. The stream of people are moving again. People are pushing past the grandfather, getting off the train. I lean down, his hand in mine.
“I hope you have a very fun day!” I say. I give his little hand a squeeze and a pat and let it go. I smile at the grandfather and wish him a good trip.
The people stream takes me away.
I return to my business, the flow, life, the mission at hand.
But I am left with a single tear of joy and the purest smile.
It wasn’t a child I met.
It was God.