I remember that it was the first cool day we’d had in a while, and I probably have that to thank for this moment. Once again I was on the subway, early enough in the morning that Jesus himself could have gotten on at fourteenth street and I wouldn’t have noticed. It was morning in which I would have been hard-pressed to even call myself alive, let alone another person. But a simple, sweet interaction shook me out of my lethargy and had me smiling to myself all day.
It was a young girl, who couldn’t have been much more than ten years old, and must have been on her way to school with her father, who was wearing a coat to ward off the aforementioned cold. I don’t remember much else about them save for a single thing. Every so often, whether for a bit of extra warmth, because the sound of the subway was a bit too loud, or just for fun, the little girl would bury her head in her father’s jacket, pressing against his shirt. In response he would simply smile down at her and pat her head. It was a quiet moment, but it was one that stood out in the lethargy of a subway ride.
It was the sense of security and safety in the gesture that made it do so. I’m not sure what the little girl wanted from her father in that moment, and I’m honestly not sure if he knew or even she knew, either, precisely what she was looking for in his jacket. But it was clear that she knew she would get it, no matter what it was, from her father. It was a moment of trust, of understanding, of love. In the subway, drowning in the rattle-clack of ceaseless movement and commuting, that moment of quiet pealed out like a clock-tower’s chiming.
As I walked off the subway that day I couldn’t help but think back on them. It was the sheer easiness of their interaction, the way nothing needed to be explained, that spoke to me. It was a moment in which I could see with perfect clarity how much she trusted her father and how much he cared for her. It was a moment in which that girl and her father and the relationship between them was so real that I felt it even through my morning lethargy, a moment in which I truly wish I’d had a camera.
With excitement and optimism,