A beautiful thing happened to me on Friday. I felt like God held my hand.
I was walking from the underground station at Paddington through to the mainline platforms. I had walked up some stairs and there was a fair sized crowd of us meandering through the walkway. As I progressed in my own bubble with the Foo Fighters screaming in my ears, I felt someone gently but confidently take hold of my right hand. Their grip was warm, confident and reassuring.
To my surprise I did not jump out of my skin or recoil in fear, but as I gently pulled my hand away I simultaneously turned to see a large African-Caribbean woman walking alongside me, chatting to her friend. As it dawned on her that she was mistakenly holding my hand, I thought she might scream in embarrassment. But instead she beamed a beautiful smile, laughed and apologised, and as she released my hand she repositioned it, outstretched behind her, for her daughter, who was walking two paces behind, to find.
In the fast-paced flow of people that occurs in such places, all this took place with neither of us actually stopping. As I continued to walk I tried to recall when my hand was last held by a parent in such a maternal way – the firm yet gentle grip of an outstretched hand that confidently provides security and comfort. Whilst I have had my hand held lovingly and reassuringly many times by my husband of 21 years and have myself stretched my hand out to offer my own children comfort and security, it has been a long time since I had my hand held by a parent!
On Friday I felt my hand held in a way I haven’t experienced for over 3 decades, and as I walked away I smiled outwardly in embarrassment and amusement. But inwardly I smiled as I savoured the reminder that this is how God holds my hand – like a mother guiding her child through a busy crowd, in search for the right platform to embark on the next stage of their journey together.