For Grandsons on their first-ever Amtrak trip, a train is decidedly an adventure.
For their Gramps, it’s a bit more like the opportunity for a life lesson or two.
You learn, for example, how intimately one’s life can become connected to that of a perfect stranger a thousand miles away…in my case, the poor soul struck by the train on which we intended to travel.
His / her tragedy—unexplained to us in any more detail than I’ve just provided—meant a 3 1/2 hour delay in our own departure from St. Louis on Saturday morning. Not a big deal for our entourage, since we had no firm plans beyond “checking in” for our arrival day.
The train ride itself was adventure enough for one day. Check out the countenance on Grandson # 2 for confirmation of THAT observation…
Connectedness: a semi-obvious takeaway from an experience of train travel, perhaps. What happens HERE…matters THERE, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Another, less-obvious, blessing: loss of agency. When you’re not the engineer, you have no control over where and when the train will stop…or who might climb aboard.
For most of us, that’s a departure from Normal. We’re rather used to managing our daily-weekly-monthly routines.
Train Travel can release you from such an illusion of control, if you’re willing to embrace the lesson. Or it can increase the level of anxiety, if you’re inclined to kick against the goad.
That’s one thing I noticed about the gospel reading we heard this week—John’s telling of the healing of the man born blind. Unlike other cases where Jesus offers healing, this guy didn’t actually ASK for help. And yet, his world, his routine, is pretty much turned upside down.
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees…[who] asked him how he was able to see…”
We, too, can be caught up in such circumstances. An unwelcome medical diagnosis, for example, can unleash powerful forces in our lives. Tests, procedures, surgeries, medications, follow-up visits: Pretty soon it can seem as if we’re no longer in control of our daily routines. And that can be unsettling, to say the least.
It helps to relieve the anxiety, I think, if we choose to follow the lead of the former-blind-man. [Even THAT requires a leap of faith, doesn’t it? Trusting…that a once-sightless individual actually now knows how to see…😇]
And what’s his first move? A simple, innocent obedience.
[Jesus] said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam”—which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
Accepting the fact that he is not in control, that obedience may be required of him, leads immediately to new blessings. Indeed, it’s the very path that introduces the once-blind-man to the Savior.
[Jesus] found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Of course, this is not the path our culture typically “trains” us to pursue. (And perhaps that’s why Amtrak ranks so low on our country’s list of preferred ways to travel: it reflects our reluctance to surrender any level of control.)
So Lent may be the perfect time for a Gramps to ponder such mysteries…and get his priorities back on track.
Let us remember that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.
thanks john for the invitation from our lord jesus to let go on the journey god has for us -that even in difficulties god will help us and bless us in ways we had not planned -john reiker