Thursday, December 11, 2014

The flashing railroad warning lights came on...

The black and white stripped wooden arms came down, and I found myself caught by a train. Great, I had so much to do. It was a full day, if only I had been a minute ahead in timing my day, this delay could have been prevented. I was midpoint, in route from leaving one appointment and on my way to another. The train had to be a long one, and a slow one, ugh. I had left my cell phone at home, terrific! I wasn’t even able to use this dead time to check my messages, make calls, I was so stuck. I had no radio on, no CD playing Christmas music, just me, the first of an increasingly long line of cars, waiting on this annoyance to pass.

The clickity-clack sound of the wheels filled my car, and the rumbling grew into a melody that sent me back through an unexpected trip of my own. I don’t think I was even aware of where my mind traveled, until my own journey was over. What an adventure I took in those 5-10 minutes of stillness.

The ka-klunk, ka-klunk of the train’s wheels against the rails wove their way through the crevices of my brain. I loved that train sound as a small child. Minnie Mamma lived right by a railroad track. I spent much of my childhood nestled upstairs in her small, lovely home, windows open, summer breezes blowing, and that ka-klunk ka-klunk lulling me into the softest comfort a small child could experience. I can remember hearing that lonely train whistle in the distance as I played on the floor of my grandmother’s living room. She would allow me to incorporate her “pretties” (breakable, cherished items) with my dolls, I could spend hours every day playing there on her living room floor.Hearing that distant whistle, would bring me to my feet. I would run to her windows, peak out over the ledge, and wait for the clickity-clack of the train to slowly pass by.

My mind traveled on, remembering an obscure time when I was in second grade. I was in a carpool, going to a private elementary school I attended. The school was about a 15 minute drive from my house. Intersecting my home from the school was a long stretch of railroad. I’m not sure why, but this day is one of those vivid memories that has lasted my lifetime. On the way to school, a very, very long train had broken down. The train covered the length of quite a few intersections and there was no detour to be found that would take us over the tracks. I can remember waiting forever in that car. The mother driving us, became exasperated, turned around and took us all home. I remember thinking, how deviant, to be able to skip a day of school because of a wonderful broken train.

My own train traveled through the valleys of my memory to a trip our young family had taken by train. We had thought it would be so exciting to take a train trip from Alpine, Texas to Los Angeles. Brent was 6, Brooke 5 and for countless reasons it was a train trip from Hell. That clickity-clack sound, or lack of it, due to many breakdowns and delays became a nightmare to me by the time that “great idea” of ours was over. Strangely, this trip is among some of Brent and Brooke’s favorite memories of our family vacations.

The last stop of my journey was of memories of last Christmas. Brooke and Jared included me in joining their sweet family for a ride on the Santa Express, a refurbished old train. We sat in our private car eating cookies, peppermint candy canes and drinking hot chocolate. Visits from Christmas Carolers and Mr. and Mrs. Claus brought smiles and laughter to all six of us. I wonder, if Harper and Harris will think of that time and have fond memories of that lovely rumbling chugging sound that enabled them a chance sit on Santa’s knee. Oh, I hope so.

Santa Express 2013

The barrier arms of the railroad intersection rose and I was brought back to the present. I looked to my left and saw the mustard colored caboose chugging away. I think it was then that I realized that I had taken this journey back through years of my life. I smiled to myself, I blinked away tears that had edged their way to the surface, and in that brief moment I gave thanks for the chance to be still and reflect on my very good life. 

Our lives, especially during this Christmas season are on such a fast track. We speed through days checking things off our to-to list, flying from one place to the next, cramming all that we possibly can into a day. What a waste.

I am thankful for my brief ka-klunk, ka-klunk rumbling melody that enabled me to pause and reflect, if only for a moment or two. I am thankful for this Christmas season, and I pray that I will remember to stop during intersections of my day and give thanks to a merciful and loving God. A God that made his trip to earth in human form, because he loves each of us so very much.

I encourage each of you stop and “Be still and know that I AM GOD.” (Psalms 46:10) and take time to hear the message he has for you.

For what it’s worth,

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