I don't know if this has happened to other people, but it has now happened to me three times in my life - and each time has been a beautiful surprise.
The first time was at a local park maybe 15 or so years ago. I was walking through a wooded area with picnic tables. It was late afternoon on a workday and I decided after work to stop and visit nature for a bit. There was only one family nearby. A man and woman and a small, perhaps 3 to 3 1/2 year old little girl playing on the nearby playground while her parents chatted. She had dark hair, very curly, like a halo around her head and she appeared quite happy and content as she talked to herself in her little playworld. I only noticed all this afterwards, for, as I walked slowly, looking for a place to sit down in the shade, the little girl ran headlong to me, looked up at my, to her, great height, and, grinning widely, threw her arms around my legs. Taken totally by surprise, I smiled down at her and lightly touched her arm. My first thoughts were practical - where were her parents and why did they allow their child to hug strangers. I asked her where her mommy and daddy were and she pointed. By now, they had noticed and called her back to them. She went back to her playing and never paid attention to me again, to my knowledge.
But the lovely surprise of two sweet little somewhat sweaty arms wrapped around my legs and a totally trusting smile had taken my breath away. It was as if I had been touched by angels with maybe a little message of love from heaven in such a wicked world. I worried a bit about her, hoping her parents would discourage further such displays, but at the same time, felt it was serendipity. Perhaps this wasn't a habit of hers at all - perhaps it was just a little gift from God through the innocence and joy of a child.
The second time, the child knew me. He was perhaps 5 or 6 years old, the grandchild of the Jamaican lady who lived in the condo across the parking lot from me. They had lived there for years and we smiled politely at each other when passing, but that was all. The little boy had never looked my way before that I know of, except on this one day, I came out of my condo and walked to my car and, as I did, he did the same thing the little girl had done. He ran over to me and literally threw his arms around my waist and smiled a great big smile up at me. I ruffled his hair and said hello, or some such inane thing, and looked to see his family's reaction. They seemed to take it in stride and I smiled at them and laughed at the child's spontaneity. But, once again, I felt when his innocent and joyful eyes met mine, that a little gift of God had been given to me - a touch of the angels.
The last time happened today. I was shopping in the local grocery store, concentrating on which can of tomatoes to buy, comparing prices and sizes, when I felt a light, caressing touch run across the back of my sweater, somewhat in the manner that my husband does when he comes up behind me. I looked up nonplussed - the thoughts running through my head, "it can't be my husband, he's at work, who on earth ...???" and I looked into the face of an 11 or 12 year old boy. He reminded me a bit of a deer, very shy, but curious. As he walked on and got closer to his dad down the aisle, I could see the worry on his father's face that I would yell something or complain or make a scene. But when I met the boy's eyes, I smiled and said, "that was nice - thanks." I looked at the dad, thinking perhaps the child has some sort of condition, and smiled. He said that most people don't react the way I did and I reassured him that his son's gesture was sweet. How very unusual.
Once again, to be touched by God through the innocence of a child. Perhaps this sounds weird or silly, but, if it has happened to you - if a child, a total stranger, throws their arms around you in what seems like love, or caresses your back - you'll know what I mean.
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