June 3, 2015
To travel to Rhode Island is pure pleasure, a mini-vacation. This weekend I am planning on making the trip so that some of us Burkholder's can attend my niece's graduation party. This young lady, Jenna Treichler, has rocked her high school years: playing some sports, winning some awards and obtaining some scholarships to my alma mater, Gordon College. She will love it! Pondering the trip, happening in two days, threw me back to a time I traveled by train with Robyn, my infant child.
Back in the day, Robyn and I spent a fair amount of time on planes, trains, and automobiles. But this trip I will never forget. It all started at the Lancaster Train terminal. Lynn dropped us off, onto the train we stumbled, infant carrier, bags, and all. Truly what was I thinking?
On all my various trips I have always made friends, this was to be no exception. On the way to Philly, I sat next to a woman who had just come back from an overseas trip to Poland with many things to think about and many things to discuss. So, I listened.
We arrived in the Philly station and my new friend helped me navigate out of the train and up into the main concourse-so beautiful. I was hungry so, of course, I asked her to watch Robyn. While I stood in line at the McDonalds I woke up to the reality of what I just did! Whipping my head around I made sure they were still there! In nanoseconds the horror scenario played out for me; a plot, a twist, and a murder mystery. My thoughts raced through reasoning,"stupid, stupid, stupid!" And concluded in lightening speed, "but it's probably going to be all right, don't lose your place in line." Note to self: Do not tell your parents or your in-laws. And yes, Bob Marley is playing in the background.
With my eye on my daughter, I gave the woman the food she ordered, thanked her, and told her how stupid I just was. She confirmed it, she had thought the same thing. But she proceeded to speak of a "knowing," while rubbing her thumb and two fingers together in an Italian sort of way. She said, "You just know about a person." Uh, huh, I mumbled, insides still shaking. On my planet we are always kind to one another. Such stupid thinking!
Fast forward to the train ride home, only this time Ruby, my husband's cousin, was with me. The train was experiencing some difficulties and my arrangements for pick-up were being challenged with each delay. My friend Maggie would be waiting at the 30th Station in Philly and we would be still on a train somewhere else. I had to relay this problem to her, but how? This is 1988, a year without cell phones. Ruby and I made friends with a sweet, young, handsome, service man. He was on furlough and he kept us company with his banter. I asked him to call Maggie when he departed the train. Why not? This planet is full of nice ones. Maggie's phone number was now his. My translation, I was trying to be kind and let Maggie know. He departed and gave me assurance that he would carry out my task. However, in his absence, doubt arose.
I had to call Maggie myself. "Ruby, would you watch Robyn? I think I need to call Maggie. What if that service guy doesn't call her? I need to make sure she knows we are going to be an hour late." Ruby agreed. Neither of us thought of the consequences that could result from me stepping off the train, no thought to how much time I had off the train, no thought about the train leaving without me, NO FREAKING THOUGHT! It is so painful to look back on those times and recognize the stupidity that could have had severe and life-altering consequences. And never once did I realize the compromising position within which I put my friend Maggie. An unknown man, now, had her number!
I am out on the platform. I am about to dial Maggie's number on the rotary pay phone. I then notice a woman with extremely blond, blond, blonder than blond hair dressed causally in a bright, kelly green, sweatshirt and brilliantly, bright pink, sweatpants - very colorful and very Spring! The moment is surreal, a movie moment, slow motion takes over and I notice people looking at me while I am looking at this woman. She is directly coming towards me. She speaks to me these words, "Can I make that call for you?"
At that very moment she spoke the request, I looked past her only to discover the train pulling out. IT WAS MOVING! I bolt, I make it to the moving train and I enter. However, what I failed to see was the electric door slowly but powerfully closing. It had already closed significantly but stupidity reigned and I tried to get in. As I was being crushed, with inches left to spare, I am trying to push back the electric door. My push against the force was making no progress. However, like a mouse I squeezed in through the steely grey death trap. I flopped in the seat next to Ruby, grabbed my baby Robyn! Ruby was unaware of the eternity I had just spent out on that platform!
I then looked out the train windows searching for the woman on the platform. I wanted to nonverbally thank her. But there was no one. The people who were looking at me while I was attempting to make a phone call were gone, and the brightly, casually dressed woman was no where to be found! That night it became apparent.
In the evening with Lynn, I am retelling him of the horrific scene, the fact that I was almost left on a New Jersey platform, that I was almost crushed in a train door. How did he ever feel safe with me in the care of our children? But it was then that he helped me realize the significance of what happened. Nonchalantly he said, "Lynne, you saw an angel, " He worked me through this thought. Why would a woman request to make a call? Why was my first response a quick glance at the train? Why were people looking at me weirdly?
The military man did call Maggie. The true blond, spring clad, female was an angel. The planet is full of amazing and nice individuals. There was a "knowing" about the woman. We lived to tell the story. My daughter Robyn, as a new momma, would never in a lifetime be so stupid! This in fact proves the existence of a sovereign God.