A few evenings ago I was sitting in my car, waiting for a turn in the light. Waiting for the green arrow so I could make my turn left onto Main Street from Cootes Drive.
With the University and McMaster Children’s Hospital on the left there was a lot of pedestrian traffic to watch while I waited. Mostly university students.
One couple stood out. A man and woman, just a few years older than the undergrad crowd, but old enough to notice. Dressed one step less self-consciously than the students around them. Looking a little weary. Walking away from the hospital to cross the street in front of me. The man was carrying a small cooler. Dark blue with a white handle.
I watched them for a second as they began across Cootes Drive in front of me. Then my gaze went ahead of them to where they would be in a few seconds -- to the other side.
There, another woman stood out. Maybe late twenties or thirty. Also less self-consciously dressed than the students who breezed around and past her. Also a little weary-looking as she stood on the sidewalk’s edge, waiting for the signal to cross Main, close enough to the curb’s edge not to be in the way of the students.
I wondered about the two of them – the three of them. The couple and the woman.
As the couple reached the far side of the street – the corner where the woman stood waiting for her own crossing in another direction, in the midst of and set apart from all the students around them, the three turned to one another and shared – offered to each other, a little smile. Only that. But definitely and quietly that.
At that point the light changed.
The woman started out across Main and the young couple, without missing a step, made the little turn a bit to the right to begin the short walk into Ronald McDonald House.
One woman off for a short walk or an errand, maybe before heading back into the hospital to see her child. A young couple after a day sitting at the bedside of their child, walking back to their temporary refuge together.
So much anxiety, exhaustion, hope and love they must have been carrying – alone and together, like a cross. And in that quick and simple smile, a welcome grazing gift of the love of God.