Vagabond Journal Entries from the Train

9 3/4

As I approached the Amtrak in Los Angeles, I found myself in a bit of a conundrum.  I knew I was boarding at Track 11, but what I didn’t know was, do I belong on Platform A or Platform B?  No one told me I would have to make a choice.  Every other station I’ve been to on this journey, there’s only one way onto the train and I went.  For the first time, straight is no longer an option; a choice needs to be made.  It didn’t make much difference with which one I had gone; I had plenty of time if I needed to change so I went with Platform A.  I was fooled!  It wasn’t the place I was supposed to be.  Platform B was my true destination.  It reminded me of the scene from the first Harry Potter movie where Harry finds himself needing to board at Platform 9 3/4–that would confuse any of us!  All he saw was Platforms 9 & 10–there was no 9 3/4.  It required in his life a mentor and guide who would show him the “in between” that he was called to in his life.  Life would seem a whole lot easier if choices were as simple as Platform A & B or 9 & 10, but so often it is at 9 3/4 where we find ourselves standing, wondering what to do, just like Harry, wondering how it will all work out.  Discernment is never easy in our lives, especially when it is good that we are discerning–how can we go wrong?!?  The reality is, the question we are left with when it comes to discernment is, “In what way is God calling me to love in this moment?”  It seems like it would be a simple question to answer.  Platform 9 or 10 don’t seem to cut it at the moment, so until a choice can be made, we stand at 9 3/4, pray for direction, listen to the mirrors that reflect, and wait for the Conductor to announce the arrival.

Moving Forward from Behind

The last seat on the last train–the caboose of the caboose, I suppose it can be called.  How on earth did I end up in this seat, especially since my next stop comes early on in the trip!  Yet, here I am.  And it’s not so bad!  There’s something about the opportunity to be able to look out the window of the back door, where the sun has now begun to set.  All of that–is now over–the past is done, there is no backing up on the train, only forward motion.  Yet, I’ve learned that my experience of God is often quite similar.  It can only be understood by looking back at my life and begin to recognize where God’s providence has been at work all along, getting me to where I  find myself at this very moment.  Yes, the sun has already set and darkness has taken over, but the providence and grace of God has been at work all along–moving us forward to this point in our lives.  At times, though, we need to spend time looking out that back window, even if it has already become dark; at times healing needs to happen, reconciling, facing our own truths in life, and so on.  Regardless, all of that is also only there to help us move forward, we too cannot back up in life; it is moving us forward to something new, to a new destination in our lives, hearts, and souls so we can love more completely in the way God has created.

 Saying Good-Bye

 At one of our stops heading to Los Angeles, there was a scene that could have come out of the movies!  There was a young man, probably high school age, boarding the train, with family and friends there to send him off, in what became, movie-like fashion!  It was cute and made me laugh and smile, knowing how hard it can be to say good-bye to the people that you love, even the person that you thought you were; it happens to us all at one point or another.  As the train began to leave the station, they started waiving, yelling that they love him, eventually running after the train, friends on skateboards chasing the train, waving and smiling as the train left them in the wind.  It was fascinating to watch, again, knowing how difficult it can be and yet, how beautiful it was at the same time; it’s a memory that stuck with me from the train ride.  Yet, as much as we try, we will never catch up with the movement of the train; we will run out of breath, fall and collapse, because the train isn’t where we were supposed to be, but rather an instrument passing through our lives onto something else, something deeper.  At one point, they had to stop and move on with their lives, without him, until they one day are reunited, but not in the same way.  His life will change as will theirs, but for a fleeting moment, they connected and felt empty in the next breath, knowing that the good-bye was coming, and yet living with hope of a future life together when paths once again are united!

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