... in strangers on the train

Published on 15 Apr 2019
A view of rural Somerset

My husband and I have been travelling back and forth to the West Country for various reasons in the last while. We love travelling by train, but some of our recent trips have entailed worry and stress due to the illness of family members. As we were waiting for our train home we were feeling exhausted and at a loss to know what to do. As we got on the train to return home, I moved down to our reserved seats while my husband put his suitcase in the luggage rack. When I got to our seat I saw a man sitting there but before I'd had much time to say anything he politely moved to the opposite side.

Settling down with my things I was quite surprised that they began a conversation. My husband joined me and the conversation continued. Actually, it continued for what must have been two hours as we travelled. The people opposite were country folk from a tiny corner of Somerset who worked with their hands: one managed livestock, lived in a caravan in a field and had a wide brimmed suede hat and the most battered mobile I'd ever seen, while the other worked on maintaining the railways and did night shifts digging culverts. As we chatted I grew to realise that they were really decent, warm people with a great sense of humour, and a lot of wisdom too. When the refreshment trolley arrived they insisted on buying us a round of teas and told us funny stories. We hadn't laughed so much in weeks. The man with the hat told us about how he invited everyone in for tea at his caravan, and how sad he was that the community spirit was hard to find these days. 

After they had gone I said to my husband: angels come along in the strangest of forms and at the most unexpected times. Instead of worrying and talking over all our worries we had spent that time laughing and feeling really uplifted. 'Christ plays in ten thousand places'.