February 24, 2013

Train Stations and Remembering

Life is a quickly-moving thing, sometimes.  We jump onto a train, and suddenly we are twenty miles past where we began.  We watch as the fields and pastures, cities and train stations pass us by, and suddenly, we can't remember what our starting point looked like.  We can't remember if the sign in front of our original train station was green or blue; if the person who beckoned us onto the train was a man or a woman; if that person smiled at us, or did not.  In admiring the new world we are passing through, we forget the place where we started.

Sometimes we do not want to remember where we began our journey, when we stepped onto the train.  We don't want to remember, because it was raining outside and we stepped in a puddle; because we forgot to smile back at the man who smiled at us; because we were in a bad mood, and tossed our newspaper on the ground.  We don't want to remember, because we are ashamed of that place, embarrassed of ourselves, or unwilling to admit we were not at our best.  

Other times, we simply cannot remember that place.  It has been too many hours on the train, and the memory of stepping off the platform has left us.  The details are long gone, the faces of the people who stood waiting with us have vanished.  We have been on this train for too long, staring at the fields and pastures, cities and train stations as they pass us by.  We have been here for so long that we have forgotten where we began.

But it is important to remember.  It is not just important - it is necessary.  We cannot forget where we came from.  We cannot forget why we decided to take this train and not another.  We cannot forget how we felt while waiting for this train, and how we thought it would never come.  We cannot forget these things, because if it were not for them, we would have never stepped onto this train.

I have spent the past week praying and trying to remember where it was that I stepped onto my train.  I am trying to remember how I felt while waiting for that train, and why I decided to take it.  I had forgotten my call to ministry, my reason for stepping onto this quickly moving train that rarely stops to let off passengers.  I had forgotten that beginning place, and why I decided to go on this train, and not another.  I have worried that I took the wrong train, and that it is too late to go back and change my mind.  I have worried that if I cannot remember that train station where I stood waiting, I will not be able to continue on this train.  I will be forced off, made to start again from a new place.  

Train stations are places in which decisions are made.  In life, we arrive at many train stations and must make many decisions.  Which train will we take?  Which way will we go?  But no matter how we decide, we cannot forget those train stations, those places where we made those decisions.  We cannot forget where we were, and why we decided to step onto that train.  Because each of those train stations has been a way-station on our journey to where we are today.  

1 comment: