Come away with me
“This is fun, isn’t it?” she exclaims as she runs breathlessly to keep up with my stride.
I forget…she is four. And I am still walking at my usual “all-business-got-to-hurry” speed.
The afternoon is warm and balmy. We are indeed hurrying, to art class.
“Sweetheart, we have to walk faster, to catch the bus.”
“Mummy, wait. This is for you!” She pauses, lags behind to pick up a fallen frangipani on the ground. It’s slightly bruised but for that reason, its fragrance is that much more noticeable.
“Thank you dear.”
I never look at fallen flowers on the ground. It strikes me that every day, they are there, shed by the tree branches overhead on the road which I take, every morning, to get the bus to work. But I never have time…I don’t make the time…to stop and smell the flowers.
And we make our way to the bus stop.
Where she talks…
About the height of the recently planted young tree beside it. And how the ones in the distance are actually taller but look smaller. Because they are far away.
And how the wind, it’s so strong isn’t it, shakes the red-and-white checkered flags on the tall, tall crane in the construction site across the road.
Of how the bus has arrived on the other side, so is our bus now late?
She excitedly grasps the EZ-Link card that I hand to her. Holding it carefully, feeling all grown up, she hums a tune she’s made up herself, rocking merrily from side to side on the bus stop bench.
Her glee is so infectious it spreads over to a Filipino maid seated on the end of the seat.
I’d seen the maid earlier, running to the periphery of the pavement, anxiously waving her hands at someone, and then finally, sitting down with a somewhat harried, faraway look.
The words of a familiar old song that my school headmistress used to sing during assembly, come to mind.
Have I poured out today’s fresh portion of His blessing to me today, or have I been bottling it all up?
Early this morning, I’d sat at the same spot at the same bus stop waiting for the regular express bus, together with a crowd of others. Heels, cufflinks, starched two-ply collars and corporate black, shutting the world out in our thoughts of tasklists and deadlines and meetings, mechanically plugged in to the various electronic devices and phones that govern our work lives with their all-consuming beeps.
So busy. So important. So…mundane.
And now that young Filipino lady, she can’t help but look over, can’t help but smile at the little angel seated in between us, can’t help but reach out shy, tentative, to strike up a conversation. And now the ball was in my court – would I respond? Would I share a little kindness? Would I be a willing vessel for God to break the ice and offer the figurative cup of water to someone who might need it in the blaze of this hot afternoon?
Our exchange is brief, but she leaves to catch her arriving bus with a smile and a goodbye wave. I don’t know what has taken place and maybe I never will, but I know Who has taken charge.
I remind DD that the card needs to be tapped on the reader at the front of the bus, and she replies, “The one which is red and purple in colour, right?”
How does she remember such things?
I take the bus twice a day, five times a week at minimum. 520 trips in a year at conservative estimate.
I’ve never paid attention to the colour of the reader.
I have to admit, sheepishly, that I’m not quite sure but we’ll check.
Our bus finally arrives after a whole series of others. Subconsciously I raise my hand to check my watch. It is technically, against the projected timing, one-and-a-half minutes late. But who was counting except me? We never had to hurry.
Chastised three times now. By that familiar still small voice that is gentle and authoritative, fatherly-close and kingly-majestic, in the same breath.
Oh and the colour of the bus reader? It is purple and a deep orangey red.
“Here we gooooooooo, Mummyyyy!”
Spontaneously, she turns and gives me the beariest bear hug the arms of a four year old can muster.
…The kingdom of God belongs to such as these…
I draw out from my bag the frangipani she’d picked for me earlier, regarding its petals…even more pressed now, having been within the stuffy confines of the canvas. And I hold it in my cupped hands, fighting the pricking at the back of my eyes.
Off we go indeed.
Off we go and enjoy our Father’s world.
Off we go and find happiness in and pay close attention to, the simplest things, the littlest things, the things oft overlooked but the ones that matter most.
Off we go. Heart renewed, mindset changed.