We were at a bus stop waiting on some friends to arrive. Little Erik was sitting in my lap then suddenly began to squealed with glee and said, "Hi there."
His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment. I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to know for sure, but I was sure he smelled.
His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. "Hi there, baby; Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster," the man said to Erik.
My husband and I exchanged looks, "What do we do?"
Erik continued to laugh and answer, "Hi, hi there."
Everyone in the bus stop noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old man was beginning to create a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our friends arrived and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo."
Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk. My husband and I were embarrassed. We tried to ignore him; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring downtrodden old man, who in turn, reciprocated with his own version of patty cake.
We finally finished greeting and hugging our friends and headed for the door. My husband went to get the car and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between us and the door.
"Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any contact. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's "pick-me-up" position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man's.
Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck.
The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, "You take care of this baby."
Somehow I managed, "I will," from a throat that contained a stone. He pried Erik from his chest unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift."
I said nothing more than muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, "My God, my God, forgive me."
I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not.
~ Author Unknown