Dec 24, 2019 – A Christmas eve to remember….. the welcome of a child.
I woke up earlier than normal, leaving the house and walking down the hill in the quiet early morning darkness to catch the West Coast Express from Mission to downtown Vancouver. My daughter was singing at a Christmas Eve service at Christ Church Cathedral with the Good News Gospel Choir. I was excited to do something new for Christmas Eve and had decided to take the train and enjoy the city before the 1pm service. As I walked towards the train on the dark, isolated streets, I was very aware of walking in solitude; holding both the gratitude of my beautiful life and the tenderness of painful moments that emerge especially in holiday seasons. I was also pondering some reflections I had been recently aware of from the pope – that we need to be aware of places of rigidity within ourselves and continue to be open to what life is ‘right now’ and what life is bringing ‘towards us’….to allow old patterns to be released and to allow new opportunities to emerge.
Well, I got on the train with these thoughts and turned right into a train car that was completely empty except for 3 people. I thought I would go to the back and pull out my journal and read and write for a bit in one of the many empty seats that were waiting for me. And then I passed these three people, a father on the left side of the train and a mother and son on the right side. Suddenly, as I passed by, the child calls out to me, a stranger; ‘won’t you sit down with us?’ It takes me off guard. I am looking at the empty seats all around me that are beckoning me out of this situation. My mind begins to race – I will politely decline and go into silence. How could I accept the request of a child and make small talk for over an hour to his parents who probably are horrified at what their child has just done and are probably hoping I will pass by? But I notice my soul inviting me to notice and to pause…..I recognize my inner turmoil – my discomfort and resistance to something new. Could I see an
opportunity for me to let go of my rigid ways of staying safe and comfortable and say yes to a child? A child! A child is inviting me to do something I would never do. Sit with strangers and come close – face to face in their private space.
And so I made a decision. A decision to say yes. Out of my mouth I hear myself say: ‘well, thank you very much. I believe I will sit with you!’. And so the day began. I sat ac
ross from the mother and the child sat to my left. The father seemed quiet and was on my right. I was in the middle of these 3 now – and there was no going anywhere.
The mother and I began to talk and I realized this was a beautiful soul who cared about life. She had a career that was meaningful to her and lots of life experiences that came out of her desire to have adventure and see the world. Our stories became more personal and we couldn’t stop talking…there was so much to share. As we talked I realized I was having fun and really enjoying myself. There was a sense of community and kindness I was experiencing that was unexpected and touched a place deep in my heart. I began to feel a well of gratitude for this invitation.
After about 30 minutes of non-stop conversation and connection, the mother began to help her son with some math quiz cards so he could earn some screen time. I turned to the father and we began to talk.
This man who I thought was perhaps unengaged was, I soon found out, a deeply soulful person with First Nations heritage. As we slowly found our own unique conversation, he began to talk and share of his life with me and at one point he said that it is very rare for him to talk to anyone about the things we talked about. I too, found myself sharing with this person things I rarely talk about and I realized, with the gifts he carried in his heart from his First Nations mentors and teachers, he understood on a deep level. I experienced a wisdom and a deep insight into some things I have gone through and again, my heart was surprised and deeply grateful.
And then the child reached out and wanted to show me things on his tablet as he had now earned his screen time! And so I let him show me what he was excited about and we enjoyed the last few minutes of the train ride in that way. And after 3 conversations with 3 strangers, we ended up at Waterfront station as friends. I reached out to give a hand-shake, but the father pulled me in, embraced me and gave me a gift of sweet grass….saying our meeting was sacred, a gift for us all……andall because of the welcome of a child.
And then as we were to go on our separate ways – I shared with them I was going to be at the Christmas Eve service and hear my daughter sing. And they said they would perhaps join me! And so they joined me at 1pm and we sat together amongst hundreds of others, singing carols and listening to the Christmas story, side by side…..with a few tears down our cheeks……sharing a most memorable Christmas time. Strangers now friends. Singing and sharing sacred moments. All because of the welcome of a child..