Waiting on a Train Going Anywhere

When I was a child my family had a lake house that we would go to on the weekends.  The hour and a half drive there always seemed to take forever.  It would be made worse if we were stopped by the train in one little town along the way.  Looking back I’m not sure why it bothered me so much to make that drive and to wait on the never-ending train, but it did.

Where we live now we have to cross over train tracks every day to get to town.  As it happens we are often stopped by trains on a frequent basis.  When we first moved to our home it bothered me a lot.  I was busy.  I had things to do.  I needed to get places.  Sitting and waiting on a freight train, especially the super long ones, was not in my daily plans.  I would be frustrated when I’d get close to the crossing only to see the train lights start flashing and the arms descending to block my way.

Back in the days before I had children old enough to stay home and babysit younger children I took all the kids with me everywhere I went.  They were often excited to see that a train was coming and would yell, “Roll down the windows, Mama!”  We would roll down the windows and listen to the whistle as the train drew nearer.  Then we would hear the thunderous sound of the train wheels clanking along the tracks.  They would wonder aloud who was on the train, where it was going, and why was it going there.

I began to ponder why there was such a huge difference in how we viewed waiting on the train.  I viewed it as a burden- something interrupting my day, wasting my time.  My children saw it as wondrous- this huge mechanical beast traveling to who knows where but definitely off on an adventure.  I found that I liked their view better.

I decided to change my outlook regarding the wait I knew I would have to endure over and over again.  Instead of being impatient and frustrated I would take that time to reflect.  As I sat waiting the next time at the train stop I suddenly understood what I couldn’t see before.   God was blessing me when I would have to stop for that never-ending train.  He was giving me a quick break from my busy day; a time to sit quietly, to pray a prayer or two, a time to just stop and look out my window to see the beauty that surrounded me.  He also was giving me time to enjoy the wonder in my children’s eyes as they discussed who might be on the train and where they might be going.  I suddenly felt silly for all the other times I muttered under my breath, “Really God?” as I was stopped by the train.

There are times that I still occasionally get frustrated when I’m in a hurry and I see those arms lowering to stop me from crossing the tracks.  The difference now is that I can re-center myself to think about why God might be slowing me down.  I trust that He has a reason and I take that time to thank Him for everything He has given me, especially for the opportunity to wait on the train headed anywhere.

7 comments
  • AmyMay 20, 2013 - 9:48 am

    Michelle, your post is beautiful. I love the innocence and awe of children and need MANY reminders to not get caught up in checking off “the list” and experience things with them. I too get frustrated by delays that are out of my control and am trying to change that. Thank you for the timely reminder as we start the week!ReplyCancel

  • MichelleMay 20, 2013 - 2:07 pm

    Thank you Amy! I have to be reminded a lot sometimes 🙂 God has a way of slowing me down to make sure I remember!ReplyCancel

  • Birgit JMay 20, 2013 - 2:16 pm

    Great take, I’ll have to remember that next time I go to visit my son and his wife. They’re an hour away and we often encounter a train on our way – making the trip even more mind-numbingly boring. Funny thing, I just wrote about trains too. Here’s my take: http://designsbybirgit.blogspot.com/2013/05/destination-journey-or-train-wreck.htmlReplyCancel

  • LynMay 20, 2013 - 11:09 pm

    I am in the process of waiting on a very long train in my life. I desperately need to learn how to sit still and enjoy the break. Thank you!

    LynReplyCancel

  • Allison H.May 21, 2013 - 2:22 pm

    Michelle, you are so right. I’d better get off this computer and play with the kids, instead of getting aggravated that they are interrupting me…
    Love, AReplyCancel

  • A. CrawfordMay 27, 2013 - 8:43 am

    Maybe you already do this (and it might not work if you’re not alone), but I have found 1-decade rosaries to be wonderful for those situations in which you have to wait. You can use them in line at the grocery store, in the waiting room at the doctor’s, in the car–wherever! It truly redeems the time, and no one can see a small 1-decade rosary.ReplyCancel

  • MichelleJune 5, 2013 - 1:03 pm

    Thank you for the suggestion and for the comments 🙂ReplyCancel