I had left with plenty of time to get to the train station, headed home to Beijing.
And then there were no empty cabs. Strange at this time of day. No worries, plenty of time.
And then one, two, three, four, five empty cabs passed me, waving me off. Worry creeping in.
And then a black cab (private driver) stopped by but shewed me off with a “no way lady” hand gesture at the mention of the train station. And then another waved me off.
Surely you feel it too, the anxiety rising.
I sent a Hail Mary text to three teammates: Pray. No cabs. May miss my train.
Normally not a big deal to miss a train, but on a holiday weekend where Friday is Sunday and the whole country is mobilized to sweep the tombs of their ancestors and enjoy the presence of their living relatives … it was becoming A. VERY. BIG. DEAL.
Will do, came the replies.
Am very stressed, I texted as I took my eyes of off traffic for a brief minute.
OK, so I’m as subtle as a heart attack. And then, then another black cab slowed down and offered a rate only 5 rmb (about a dollar) over the real rate to go to the train station. I was so flooded with adrenaline and text prayers and was willing to pay anything to get to the train station and he offered me the kindness of only a buck more? Small mercy gladly received.
Am in black cab!!!!! There is time to make my train, but the margin in slim. Keep praying. I hate holiday traffic.
And then we swung by a bus stop and picked up two more passengers. Oh China. Oh black cabs. Oh traffic please part like the Jordan River.
You know that sense when you have no idea how far away you are from the train station, bus stop or airport so you can’t sense how urgent (or not) the situation may be? Then you are in that cab with me, along with teammates who distracted with texts laced with humor, concern, and other stories. And then finally I saw a street sign that said “train station.”
Here. Grateful. Now to face crowds! Elbows ready.
Oh to have time to stop and be present in the moment. To photograph the women lying down, their small bags used as pillows. To absorb the size of the crowd and be in awe of the sheer mass of humanity. To gaze at the faces of travelers and wonder at their stories.
It was awesome and horror inducing in one fell swoop. There were so many people. So many. So many. I shoved to the line outside the train station that said “your train is already boarding” by-passing the hordes in the massive lines to my right (and joining other crazed travelers. Let’s just say the elbows were flying and we all understood why!).
Made it in. Luggage x-rayed. Board scanned and gate number located. Escalator ridden. Hall traversed. Ticket handed. Car found. Seat collapsed into. Train moving eight minutes later.
He looked out and had compassion on the crowds.
To imagine that He knew and cared for every single person in that train station is staggering and yet it is true! I see a mass that I cannot begin to fully comprehend and He sees each and every face and knows each and every story and is compassionate.
Had I missed my train would I still see the compassion? Hopefully I would have recognized it. In different ways (and with more initial fussing!), but there were people I had just left who were texting me as well and had I needed to return to them, there would have been open arms, a warm bed, and compassionate responses.
But on that day, I got the happy ending.
Thanks be to God for the traveling companions and small mercies extended along the journey.