We have a train track near our home. Often we hear trains rumbling by with whistles blowing. The track section near our home harbors two tracks, where trains pass one another. One train pulls off to one side to let the other go past. In doing so, one train has to stop dead in its tracks and wait until the other train has gone by.
So, a stopped train blocking a nearby intersection is a common occurrence in this neighborhood. With railroad warning lights and arms down, the train happily parks until further notice is given, which can be hours, we\’ve discovered. Drivers are forced to find an alternate route, which isn\’t always convenient, let me tell you.
I just returned from lunch with my brother, David. (We chomped down some good old Leann Chin Chinese food and sipped our Pepsi\’s for a good two hours. He is definitely one of my most favorite people in the world.) On the way home I noticed a parked train near the intersection, but not blocking it this time. Whenever I see a train engine parked there, I tend to drive by a little slower in hopes of catching a glimpse of the engineer in the window. Almost always I espy someone sitting there waiting and, when we actually eyeball each other, I wave. Today the window was without occupant. There was a void, as if no one was tending the locomotive, no one was ready to put her in gear and keep her on task. No, just dark void.
I wonder what people see when they look into my eyes. Do they see, like today\’s locomotive, little more than void? Is anyone tending this vessel that travels through time and space? Boy, it sure feels like it, but then maybe I\’m deluded…let\’s not go there, shall we? No, let\’s talk about others. Ahem…for sure some people definitely do have that empty look in their eyes: it is as if no one is home, no one is taking responsibility, no one has enough hope to believe there is a tomorrow to travel into. They sit on the side track and feel the rumble of other trains passing them by, other trains that are going somewhere or have some purpose to fulfill.
Where are those engineers, I wonder? Where do they go? Were they ever there to begin with? I think it is safe to say they were there at some point; otherwise they wouldn\’t have started on their way. No, something must have come along that nudged them off the main track and encouraged them to check out, to retreat into deep recesses where no navigation is possible.
How do we draw these engineers back into their seats, I wonder. Maybe it is as simple as something I\’m tempted to do every holiday season: grab some homemade holiday cookies and trek to that parked monstrosity, climb up to the locomotive\’s window and hand them something baked with love.
Maybe all some people need to begin healing, to begin moving toward the engineer\’s seat is to know that someone is looking for them, someone is outside waving their way or is knocking at the dark windows of their soul with loving-kindness in hand.
We see Jesus in the Gospels going to those whose gaze had become vacant, those whose engineer\’s seats were unoccupied, those who sat on the margins of society and felt time rumble by. Dare we let Him do as much through us? Dare we invite Him to do as much through us? Hmmm…maybe this is the part where I look in the mirror…