Oh, This Train
You hear the train whistle blow. You look at your pocket watch and review the schedule times on the crumpled sheets of paper. The receptionist gave them to you months ago . . . "To prepare you for change," she explained. You sit on the bench and wait for the train to lodge, wondering if this locomotive will be the one you aboard.
The conductor slows and applies the airbrakes fifty miles to the east of the train station. It screeches like sharp nails on a blackboard. The shushing sound the steam makes stirs anxious emotions in your mind.
The conductor's gaze passes right through you. It's not your transportation . . . disappointment blankets your heart and snuffs your candle of joy.
You look at your itinerary and quickly rush into the train house. The manager solemnly shakes his head, and you sigh, despaired. You long for departure from this noisy, bustling city. You trudge to the curb and hail a taxi back to your boarding house. A heavy rain begins to fall. "Perfect weather to match my gloomy mood," you mutter. As you shuffle through the door, your host looks sympathetically at you.
"Maybe next time, love," he whispers. You nod, trying to conceal your hopelessness. "Friday will be here in a few days," you assure yourself more than you do him. You climb up the stairs and rest uneasily through the long, cold night. The next morning, you slumber through your work at the daycare office, and all of your accquaintances give you encouragement and comfort. Little children hug your legs, and your eyes well and leak periodically through the day.
Finally, Friday comes and you tuck your blond hair under a rose-colored bucket hat. You grab your suitcase and walk the five-mile journey to the train station. You sit on the bench, stiff and unmoving and wait for an half hour, then you finally hear the "chugga, chugga" of the steel and wheels of your ride out of the city and into new life.
The conductor squeals to a stop and steps out. "All aboard!" You look at the side of the train, and its not your ride. The conductor looks at the train manager and shrugs, then starts off. You start walking home, feeling the razor in your cardigan pocket.
Tears roll down your cheeks and you curse the sun, mocking you. "Wait!" the manager yells. "Miss, wait!" You turn around and look at the stout, gray-headed man heavily jogging towards you. "Miss," he gasps, "your train is running late. It got stopped by the thunderstorm last night, but it will be here within the hour."
A smile overcomes your lips, and you begin to giggle, feeling like a fool, crying for a train. You sit on the bench and the suns seems so warm and perfect and the birds' songs couldn't be sweeter. As you wait, you daydream what your new place will be like. You see the job promotion and grand apartment full of friends and coworkers who love you. You romanticize the thought of meeting and marrying Mr. Right. You imagine summer rains and white winters.
Suddenly, you hear the train whistle and your mind escapes to the present. The house manager picks up your trunk and you dial the number to the boarding house. The hostess picks up and you tell her the good news. You both banter for a moment, rejoicing, then you hang up the phone, rushed. The conductor calls, "All aboard!" and you briskly climb up the few steps. Your eyes lock with him, and he nods, smiling. You look in the cabin and see there is no other passengers. "Is this correct?" you cry. "Am I alone?"
The train conductor nods. "Yes, ma'am, you're the only one I came for." His kindness speaks to your soul, and you hesitate, then quietly query him: Why? He explains that he had a dream a few months ago that he needed to pick a young woman up at the train station in Detroit, that it was urgent and he needed to go right away. He also confesses that he's been traveling since the morning he awoke from the dream. Your heartstrings are tugged, and you nod at him so slightly you think he doesn't see. He takes your elbow and leads you to the first seat of chairs, then goes up to the caboose. He puts the train in drive and you start for your new life.
"Do you know where I'm going?" you ask him, curious.
"A sweet place that you will be safe in. Where your dreams are apparent and easy to chase; a land full of rest and sweet friends, gentle seasons and cleansing rains. This is the place my Father wants you to be. Relax on the journey; we have a long way to go."
This man has traveled many miles just to take you to a sweet place such as the Land of Flowing Milk and Honey? Could this be real? You are thankful for the opportunity, and let your eyes close.
The conductor wakens you a few hours later, and leads you off the train into green pastures. It is so peaceful out here, you may lie down and slumber. He guides you to a warm, stone cottage and you spin around, looking at the birds in windowsill and many leaves decorate your floor and silk spiderwebs swirl across the ceiling. You look into the conductor's eyes and a lump forms in your throat. "Welcome to 23rd David Avenue."
You put the clues together. "Psalms? I'm in God's World?"
"Welcome to rest. Enjoy your perpetual and natural stay."
Oh this train, that has brought you so far. Oh this train, gave rest to your heart. Oh this train, that brought you change. Oh this train, I will never forget this train.
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