Somewhere tucked between morning and midday, I was driving on a reasonably busy road, en route to an even busier town. Something on the other side, near the stoplights, caught my attention.
My God-children were in the car, but I had to slow down a bit to see what it was. There – something small, was approaching the edge of the sidewalk. Someone’s lost pet maybe? No, it couldn’t be. It was – a baby – someone’s child – was about to step into the street. Not more than a toddler, the tiny frame crouched down to make an attempt. The cars on that side, just yards away, paused. I locked eyes with the driver who was now beside the toddler, who was not at full-walking stage yet. It was a man, and he looked as if he was in shock, and at a loss as to what to do.
“Stay in the car!” I instructed the children in the car. They said okay, locked the doors, and smooshed their faces against the window pane to the situation unfold. I opened my door, walked across the road and toward the toddler. There was no one standing or walking on the sidewalk – no parent or sibling around. Not wanting to alarm the little one, who was still trying to get onto the road, I ushered the precious little life back onto the sidewalk, scooped him or her into my arms, and started to walk in the direction of the closest neighbourhood, just a corner away. Please let the children in the car be safe too. The only buildings facing us were in and industrial complex; there was a secondary school opposite, and it was Sunday – both of them would be closed.
I asked myself some tough questions, and contemplated my approach to whomever I saw to ask the question, “Is this your baby?” How could I be certain that someone was who they said they were, in relation to the quiet child in my arms? I had to analyze the situation, and pray about what to say and how to handle this. The toddler was of East Indian descent. A man saw me, and asked how he could help, sensing I was looking for something when I rounded the corner to the neighbourhood. “This baby was about to cross the road, and I’m looking for the family.”
“Betta be careful ‘fore somebody tink yuh tek dem chile.” It wasn’t unreasonable advice, and the thought had never crossed my mind. I was grateful for it, but leaving the baby in the middle of nowhere wasn’t an option at all. My family is quite diverse, and there are shades of all colours, hair textures of many kinds, and enough accents to compose an international choir, so I wasn’t intimidated by any potential awkward racial encounters. The mission was to return child safely to parent – return to God-children in car, and continue to town – the end.
No leads in the neighbourhood. Thankfully, the toddler was at ease for the most part, but started to become a little nervous, as we went back to the initial spot just beyond the traffic lights by Springer Memorial School.
A swift movement and shadow to the back of the industrial building. It was barely a second, but I noticed an older child’s frame – a boy, about 11 or so – of East Indian descent. Instantly I understood he was a relative, had been in charge of his little brother or sister, saw us, and fled the scene. As I entered the gate, which I hadn’t realized earlier, was actually half-open, a car turned in, and the man driving asked if everything was alright. He identified himself as a police officer, and shared his concern. While sharing the discovery of the baby and search mission at hand, a woman (East Indian) came out of the building, and walked over to us. It was her child. She reached for her little one, said “thank you,” cradled the toddler in her arms, and returned inside.
And that was that – some 10 or more years ago. I shared this with two friends recently, and now am here. God can choose and use anyone. Seeing a need, and like Ann Voskamp emcourages – BE the gift – without celebration, but with thanksgiving and gratitude for being set apart in the right place at the right time – for His purpose, and His glory, the one true thing that matters in life.
Every now and then, I meditate on this, and picture the family living joyfully wherever they may be, giving thanks for being present, and an imperfect present.