DaRT: A Rare Treasure in Union Station

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

Tonight the lobby looks empty.

Beneath the sparkling chandeliers of the Hyatt-Regency Hotel, all the chairs sit vacant. Our clanging footsteps echo across the floor, as sharply as they did when we hurried here through the underground tunnel from Union Station. The only murmurings come from human-constructed waterfalls, wafting their fresh fragrance as they splash from one level to another.

Well, we do spot one man standing alone. Brandy and Henry head in his direction, while Natalie turns to me with a smile. “Let’s go see if we can find anyone on the other side.”

The other side yields only columns of pink and white balloons, apparently left over from some forgotten party. And as for Brandy and Henry’s human target? Brandy shakes her head when we once again meet up with her and Henry. “Soon as he saw us coming, he just took off.”

Who does God want us to love tonight?

When we prayed together earlier on the train, we did receive a strong sense to again check out Union Station. Recalling our last trip here, which yielded an empty train station—then a hotel lobby bustling with folks who welcomed prayer, with fruitful divine encounters—we assumed this visit would also mean the glamorous Hyatt-Regency.

Henry scans the now-vacant hotel lobby. “Why don’t we head back out and check the station?”

“Let’s first see what we find on the second level,” Brandy suggests.

We whisper more prayers as we sprint upstairs. There we finally do see many people . . . sealed off from us on the other side of a glass partition. And intent on elegant dining at their distant rows of linen-draped tables.

“I don’t feel good about interrupting people while they’re eating dinner,” Henry advises.

Yet one diner seems highlighted to us. He’s eating alone . . . looking all the more conspicuous in his blinding tomato-hued shirt. A limp shock of straw-colored hair dangles over his forehead, lending him a lonely, brooding air. “I’m going to check him out,” Brandy decides. “Anyone want to come with me?”

Natalie joins her. But while Henry and I watch and pray, we see a tuxedoed hostess appear before the two others like a small human blockade. Soon they’re turning round and heading straight back toward us.

“She asked us what we wanted, and I kind of bumbled the answer,” Brandy confesses. “That hostess was clearly in guard-dog mode, intent on protecting her customers from unwelcome intruders.” The usually-bold prayer leader shakes her head with regret. “When we turned away, I received a clear sense from God of what I could have said. ‘We just want to see someone for a minute.’ ” With a philosophical shrug she adds, “I’ll just file that away as a lesson I learned tonight.”

The lesson for me, I reflect, is that even the boldest, most practiced among us have their vulnerable moments. Yet God is forgiving, always offering us second chances.

“Let’s check out the station,” Henry suggests again . . . and this time we all take him up on it.

We scurry back through the tunnel, rattle the inner glass doors that lead from there into the station. Find them locked. Spot the sign directing us to use the outside doors. As we push out into the sultry evening air, Brandy spots them. A woman with a small girl bouncing along beside her . . . a fairy-like child whose right arm seems crooked at an odd angle.

But as we round the corner, the pair disappears from sight. Our attention is drawn for the moment to the lime-green neon socks of a man seated at the train stop. “Hey, I like your socks,” Natalie greets him.

The lanky young man flashes us a grin bright as his socks, eager to chat and answer questions. But as Fred has no specific prayer needs, we simply bless him . . . in his work as both a company owner and a nurse.

Then we enter the station. And this time we all spot them.

The lady, whom we assume is Mom, is plopped in weariness upon a bench. The caramel-skinned small girl, her hair scooped back into a gold-tinged dandelion puff, flits about the bench in dreamy circles.

Natalie makes a beeline for the two. “What a beautiful little girl.” She smiles at the child, turns to the woman. After exchanging introductions and explaining our purpose, she asks if they need prayer.

“Naw.” Amber shakes her head. “But my best friend, who’s workin’ over there at the security desk, sure could use some prayer.”

Heading to the desk, Natalie questions both security guards behind the counter. Finds out Amber’s best friend is not the man, but the woman named Solitude.

Solitude brightens at the question. “Yes, I’d love to receive prayer for my little girl.” A shadow of sorrow crosses her face as she indicates the dainty child.

“She’s your little girl?” Natalie expresses the surprise of us all.

Solitude nods. Steps out from behind the desk, heads toward her daughter and friend as she speaks. “Sapphire was born with a rare genetic disorder. Only thirty-one people have it in the United States. The disease affects just about everything on her right side, includin’ the use of her right arm. She’s also missin’ a rib, a kidney, and an ovary on that side, plus she’s deaf in her right ear. Won’t never grow much taller than she is right now— ’bout three feet and a couple inches.

“But she’s still a miracle child.” A fond smile softens the mother’s face. “Doctors said she’d never walk or even crawl, probably wouldn’t live to the age of two. Well, she’s walkin,’ talkin’ since this past year, even attends public school . . . and she’s just turned six.”

“Let’s pray for Sapphire to receive an even bigger miracle,” Natalie tells Solitude, after we share her wonder over the small girl’s progress. We all gather round mother and daughter.

Tiny Sapphire—who looks closer to four than six—shrinks away from being touched, buries her head with a shy smile in the T-shirt of her big brother Shawn. But she holds still as, keeping our hands turned heavenward, we lift her up in prayer— “You know, honey, jus’ like we all pray for you at church,” her mom explains to her in a gentle tone.

Our prayers extend to encompass Solitude herself . . . whose state as a single mom reflects her name.

As we head back outside toward our train stop, we wonder over the rare Treasure we found in Union Station. “That was a divine encounter if we ever had one,” Brandy marvels. “It seems as though God planned for us to meet those two from the very beginning. Everything that happened tonight worked out exactly right for that one purpose.”

We recount the many non-coincidences . . . the empty hotel lobby, our detour through the tunnel’s outside doors. We agree that God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

Then there are the visions some of us received during our prayer.

“I saw the word ‘sunshine,’ ” Natalie shares.

“That fits with my vision.” Brandy smiles. “I saw beams of light, kind of like a prism, shining through clear glass like crystal.” She grows solemn. “You know, ‘Solitude’ sounds like such a sad name. I sense God is wanting to change her name . . . maybe to some kind of precious jewel, like Crystal.”

Which would fit well with both Amber and Sapphire, I muse.

This seemed to be a night of solitary people. A lone man striding off from our group in an almost-empty lobby. A lone diner with brooding face, cut off from us by the barriers of a glass partition and a protective hostess. A lone but cheery nurse, welcoming our blessings over his work. And a lone but loving mother . . . struggling to raise one very special child.

We can still pray for each of them . . . placing them all in the arms of a God who’s never stopped by barriers. But our great delight flows from our divine encounter with a dedicated mom . . . and a child whose rare disorder can’t hide her shining beauty as one of His rarest Treasures.


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