Praise the Lord!
The platform was practically empty. A great wave of relief washed over his entire being as he descended the last two steps of the stairs to stand on the Metro platform. He took a moment to look up the platform and then down, just to verify his answered prayer. He hated crowds.
The station was empty except for four other people. To his far left, practically to the extreme of the quiet platform stood two young people, locked in each others arms. The young man was quite a bit taller than his friend but she was enjoying that difference, clasping her arms around his neck while standing on his feet. It looked as if they were dancing to some unheard music, oblivious to the world around them. He smiled as the image of them locked in this embrace with train after train having come and gone, played out across his vision.
Love one another.
A bit up from them, but still at a comfortable distance, was a very serious looking man. Most people have probably seen the type; briefcase in hand, overcoat open, suit underneath, tie perfectly done up. This man seemed to avoid colour, preferring the standard gray and white. He seemed to be pre-occupied with studying the many newspaper bits strewn haphazardly around the station. To be honest, the place was a mess. Papers and discarded fast food wrappers were laying about, lodged wherever the wind of the speeding trains carried them. They were evidence of a society that did not care about anything. It did the same to people as it did to objects it no longer wanted. He imagined the papers as people, their bodies wedged into nooks and crannies all over the station. The vision shocked him. He turned away.
You are like that.
As he turned, his eyes came upon the last person sharing the platform with him. She was the closest to him, an almost uncomfortable 50 meters away. She was anything but threatening. An older lady, probably in her eighties. She was nicely dressed, with practical shoes but dressed up in some nice jewelry. He imagined she had a nice dress on to go with the jewels but it was hidden behind her beautiful London Fog overcoat. She presented herself as an elegant person and only her etched face gave betrayed her age. She also carried with her a very satisfied looking Yorkshire Terrier. Probably a substitute for her children. He imagined her living alone, in a one bedroom apartment, with her children either living in Toronto or on the West Coast.
Love one another.
After assuring himself that he was safe from being disturbed he took a seat on the bench beside him and placed the ear buds in his ear. Glancing at the station clock he saw that he had three minutes before the next train. Plenty of time to listen to the final point of last Sunday's sermon. He had been trying to listen to this the entire day but kept getting interrupted. He wanted to go through this again because his pastor had brought up a subject that had fascinated him. How thankful he was that his church made these digital recordings available. He was a person who liked to understand every fine point of practically everything, but especially concerning Jesus.
One of the things that fascinated him the most was the power Jesus demonstrated to help others and the fact that Jesus said that those who came after him would do greater things than he did. It was this topic that the pastor had preached on this past Sunday. He explained about the Holy Spirit who enabled Jesus' disciples to do the same things, even though we don't see it today. That's the part that troubled him the most; why were we not seeing these miracles today? Jesus said we would do greater things and he sent the Holy Spirit so we could but all it seemed that we could do is good deeds, preach and write books. Where was the power?
Do you believe?
Troubling, is all he could say to himself. Perhaps he had it all wrong then. Perhaps there is no such God called Jesus. Perhaps it was all a matter of controlling the masses with a fanciful tale of a God who cared enough to become one of us, part of his own creation. Perhaps people were self-delusional and this was nothing more than a way of finding greater importance to their birth. If even his disciples today did not believe in miracles, how is this God glorifying himself? Why should he believe?
Even as these thoughts were reaching into his young faith, something out of the corner of his eye screamed for his attention. He turned to see the uptight man collapsed on the platform, his briefcase protruding from under the crumpled heap. Shocked, he looked down the platform to the young couple still embraced in the eternal dance of love. Desperate, he turned to the older lady but she was suddenly occupied with her tiny companion. Panicking, he looked around to see if any unnoticed person could assist this poor man. There was no one in sight. For a brief second it struck him how bizarre it felt to suddenly want a crowded platform.
The need of the man outweighed his need for solitude. But the thought of stepping out of his world into that of a complete stranger frightened him. Something in him pushed that fear aside and, a mere few seconds after seeing the man fall, he jumped to his feet.
He seemed to see everything in slow motion as he felt himself hurl his body into motion. He could feel his legs pumping underneath him; push, catch; push, catch. He noticed strange things, such as how many wads of gum had missed the trash and were now flattened on the platform as if they had become one with it. He saw the names etched into plastic benches that seemed to fly by in his flight toward the man. People's attempt at some kind of immortality, he thought. He saw the pattern in the tile floor, a pattern that he had never noticed in his ten years of using this station. And then he was beside the fallen man.
Breathing heavier than he should have been, he knelt beside the man. Not knowing what else to do he stuck his hand in front of the man's mouth to see if he was breathing. How awkward would this be if the man was suddenly to sit up. He felt nothing. A sudden pang of regret for not having taken that CPR course jabbed at him. He just stared at the man's face, desperate thoughts racing through his mind; panic nipping at his consciousness.
"Do something, dude!"
The sudden interruption to his scattered thoughts caused him to almost jump out of his skin. He whipped his head around to find the young lovers standing behind him. In his desperation he hadn't heard them approach. He was looking into the face of a young man, maybe in his late teens. The boy had a mixed look of concern and anger, perhaps for being interrupted from his eternal dance. He looked back to the body and then up the platform, to see the older woman approaching. Great! Now he had an audience. What was he suppose to do? Nothing came to his grasping mind.
He reached out and loosened that man's tie. It didn't seem to do anything but give him the satisfaction of having done something for the man. No signs of life. His own breathing continued its heavy rhythm and he could feel the sweat running down his back. For the first time he noticed just how hot it was in the station. Perhaps that was the problem. He unbuttoned that man's suit to allow him more air. Still nothing. He was useless. Why didn't someone else do something?
"Dude, you're useless. I'm calling for help."
He didn't know what brought the greater relief; hearing the young man's cries for help or the fact that he was almost alone again. He just wanted to be back home. He wanted to be curled up in bed. He wanted to be a thousand miles from this place. He wanted to be anywhere but here, kneeling beside a dead man without a clue what to do.
The image of Jesus reaching out to the sick flashed across his vision. He imagined he could hear the desperate cries of the crowd; "Heal me, Jesus." "Help me." "Rabbi, my son needs you." "Help me see again." It was like a deafening roar in his ears. Then it was gone. His mind reeled. Then the image of the hand laid upon the sick child. The opening of the eyes. The knowing smile on the face. The return of laughter. The celebration. The acknowledgment. He realized it's how they knew he was indeed the Messiah. The image vanished and there lay the body of a dead man; a body without life.
He couldn't possibly. The older lady was now standing by him. He could see her practical shoes out of the corner of his eye. What would she think? But the thought was taking root in him, growing, compelling him. He hesitated, then reached out his hand but hesitated again to put it on the man's head, as he had seen in his vision. What if ....?
"Go ahead, son. Just do it!"
The soft, reassuring voice of the older lady seemed to be the defining moment as he placed his hand on the man's head. Everything else to faded away now. The shoes were gone. The platform was gone. The cries for help were gone. Even he seemed to be gone. All he could sense was the cool flesh of the man's forehead and the words that were welling up in him. Just for the briefest of moments he realized all fear and doubt had vanished as well, and then he began to pray.
"In Jesus' name, I command life back into this body."
Ever so faintly, as if from another world, he heard the voice of the older lady: "Amen".
There was a great rush of adrenaline that raced through his body. A boldness seemed to overtake his wimpy character. He knew before he opened his eyes what he would see.
He opened them. So did the dead man. They stayed there frozen, staring at each other. One was in shock, the other confused. Then ... a telling smile began forming at the corners of his mouth.
I am real.
For the second time that day he found himself wishing for the crowded platform.
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11)