The doors of the train opened long enough to allow the rest of my family and our friends exit into the station. A man entered and the doors closed. I was alone riding Marta home–riding into neighborhoods that most Atlantans avoid because they aren’t safe. (just adding that detail to add drama to this story even though it doesn’t actually feel that dangerous to me. ;) )
The plan had been my idea. We spent the afternoon out enjoying the gorgeous weather, picnicking at the park, walking, and people watching. It had been nice, but my strength was spent. The rest of the group wanted to hit a tourist attraction, so I offered to ride back to the station and pick up the van then drive to pick them up.
As the doors closed behind them I simultaneously relaxed back into my seat knowing I wasn’t responsible for anyone but myself, and felt a twinge of fear as statistics I know floated through my mind. I realized this was my first time riding the train alone and thought of deboarding the train alone in a dark, deserted station.
Fear isn’t something I feel often, thankfully. As we whizzed along I breathed a prayer. There is so much peace in knowing that He is with us–that we are never alone!
We arrived at Little Five Points and I got off to catch a connecting train. A quick scan around told me I didn’t exactly blend into the crowd. :) My dad’s words for us girls when we toured big cities came back to me : Look as though you know what you’re doing even if you don’t know what you’re doing , and mind your own business.
I took the next train that came through, and soon realized it was the wrong train. There are two train lines that run east and west and two that run north and south. I was headed in the right direction, but I would need to get off at another station to catch the train that would take me to the station where we had parked. Kind of a bummer, but you never know what you might have avoided or what opportunities you’ll have because of a detour.
That’s what I was thinking as I rested my exhausted self the few last minutes of the train ride--maybe there is a reason I got onto the wrong train and God, please protect me. The overhead voice announced the station and a few of us stepped off the train.
Soon someone was at my side. “Jew-ish?” he asked gesturing at my head covering.
“No. I’m a follower of Jesus.”
He nodded. “What religion you associate with?” I don’t remember what all we talked about, but I do know he surprised me when he said the Mennonites have only been around for a few hundred years.
What? Almost no one here has heard of Mennonites or even Amish (thankfully, since their exposure would probably have been the ridiculous TV shows). I wouldn’t expect someone with missing teeth and clothes several sizes too big to know any details of Anabaptist history. People are so surprising and interesting.
We talked, too, about his beliefs–which focuses on spirituality and not religion. Something I said in that conversation about our relationship with God being most important–that religion doesn’t save us–made him light up.
“I knew it. I saw that Light within you. That’s what drew me to you. I could see you shining and I saw you was pure. You can tell. If people they be doing wrong around you they do like this here,” and he walked five feet away to step off a large circle around me. “They can tell, ‘She’s pure. She’s not doing these wrong things. I’m leaving her alone.'”
I was stunned. I loved that what he said he noticed about me was not my “costume” but light and purity. I am always hoping that people can see Jesus in me. When I’m bursting with joy or when I’m serving then I might expect that they can see Him, but what about when I’m so tired I’m having a hard time holding it together? Can God still be recognized, be given glory, when we look more like a crumbling mess than a radiant picture of life?
Maybe…yes? Exciting thought. Maybe, just maybe it really is true that when He lives within us He doesn’t need us to appear just right. We might be broken down, but when we’re trusting Him and receiving Life from Him–it is HIM within us that shows.
Our train arrived and we finished up as we boarded. He asked me to pray for him and I said I would.
I don’t know for sure what he was implying when he said people who were doing wrong would stay away from me when they saw me. I don’t know; but as I left a deserted, shadowy train station that night I could almost picture angels surrounding me.