15 minutes late for work, I got off the train at my usual station and joined the mob rushing towards the escalators. I had just turned my head to check my card, when a shadow at the corner of my eye made me look up.
Swish, swish, swish… He was a cleaner I hadn’t seen before.
Swish, swish, swish… Elderly, hunched and quietly doing his job, I’m not sure why but I was entranced by his lone figure.
A few minutes later, the crowd was gone but I was still standing there, hidden by the station’s signboard, watching him. My mouth was filled with words, but I was afraid to give them voice. My intellect didn’t quite know what to make of my heart’s odd behaviour.
I walked away.
Just as I reached the lift lobby, another cleaner walked past. He had a hole in his throat.
‘Throat cancer,’ the Mother said to me. ‘And because of the operation, he now has to breathe through that hole.’
‘How does he speak?’ I asked.
‘He doesn’t… well, not the way you and I do. He had to learn how to articulate through that hole.’
Walking through the corridor towards my desk, I passed by Crazy. She was a video editor that I worked regularly with.
‘Morning!’ I chirped but was completely ignored. Something’s not right…
I saw JapGirl and immediately asked her if she’d noticed anything about Crazy.
‘She’s going through something, but I’m not sure what,’ she replied with a sad smile. I understood that look. Crazy was one of JapGirl’s best friends.
‘Should we say something? Do something?’ I asked.
‘I’m not sure. It looks like she wants to be left alone.’
So I left her alone.
‘I am so sorry I’m late!’ the Dancer exclaimed as we sat down at our favourite eatery for lunch. ‘Things were just mad at work and I couldn’t get away.’
She was an hour late but it was fine with me. I had work to finish too, and truthfully, I was a tad reluctant to leave the office.
‘Don’t worry about it,’ I smiled as we tucked into our beef goulash. ‘So how have you been?’
And it all came pouring out – her problems with a team that she’d worked with for years, a horrid misunderstanding still unresolved, the sleepless nights that left her tired, the frustrations with her inability to dance because of her injury…
‘i just don’t know what to do!’ she wailed.
‘Then you’re in a safe place,’ I said. ‘You’re an accomplished woman. You’re famous because of what you’ve done in the past… I mean, come on! I can google you! How many people can I do a google search for information on credentials and history? But now, you find yourself in places where you can’t be strong… and while I know it’s frustrating, maybe this time, it’s about the journey, not the end-goal. Can I ask… what was your deepest desire when you first came in to church?’
‘I once asked myself that,’ she slowly stirred her cold soup, ‘And I had no answer. So I took a pen and began to draw. For reasons I didn’t understand then, I found myself drawing trees. Big, strong trees. One after another, till they became a huge forest. And then I got it. I wanted to grow people, to see them become strong trees, to help others who can’t do whatever it is they want to do.’
‘What do you think you’re learning, from all these things that are happening around you?’ I pressed in a little more.
‘I’m not sure… I just feel so out of control.’
‘Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to be learning,’ I smiled. ‘To let go. To not be in control but to let another greater power work through you instead.’
‘I think you’re right. I’ve never felt this way before…’ she said. Then with a loud wail, ‘But noooooo… it’s so difficult!’
We laughed and then I had to run. I was 30 minutes late for my next appointment.
Back-to-back meetings and coping with a shoot that was scheduled at the last minute, the day passed by and before I knew it, it was 8pm. With a sigh of relief, I packed my things and turned off the lights. Walking out, I passed by Crazy again but she looked no better from the morning.
‘Love you…’ I texted her but hours later, hadn’t received a reply.
Hurting people with untold stories. When do you leave them alone and when do you intrude into their world?
See the woman on the train, the man driving the cab you’re riding in, the guy seated at the bus-stop, the colleague beside you… there are hurting people everywhere.
‘Is there a reason why I was placed in this precise spot on earth?’ I asked the Dream Maker. We were watching the non-existent stars in our night sky.
‘What do you think?’ He asked.
‘I think there is. But how do I help anyone?’
‘But how?’ I wrinkled my brow.
‘Smile. Look at them in the eyes. Let the love be genuine. Sometimes, that’s enough for the day.’ He said.
‘That’s enough?’ I didn’t get it.
‘Build it daily, one brick at a time. You’ll know what to do when the time comes…’
‘Easy for you to say,’ I laughed, chucking Him on the head. ‘You’re God!’
‘And you’re Mine. What makes you think you won’t know otherwise?’
This time, I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts.
– Hebrews 10:16 (MSG)