I am not sure why but I love to travel on the train. The seats are nice and wide and there is a place to plug in your cell phone or laptop computer right next to the seat. Most trains have wireless internet so getting online work done is a little easier now than it used to be. Maybe it is romance of sitting there as the scenery passes by out the window or maybe it is the fact that it is one of the last ways to travel that is not a hassle I am just not sure. Whatever the reason I really do like this mode of transportation.
I had the opportunity recently to travel by train to New York City. I was headed there for a conference where I was to be a presenter. At first I thought I would drive but the more I thought about it I decided to relax and take the train. It turned out that taking the train was the best option, if I had driven I would have been tense all the way down and back and that does not make for an enjoyable journey.
The trip from Boston to New York takes just over three hours to complete so I brought along a book that I have been reading in the hopes that I could get a good chunk of it read on the trip. I did find myself looking out the window, once the sun came up, as all of the backyards and side streets passed by.
There are two types of trains that run from Boston to New York, the Acela and the Local. The Acela makes fewer stops and travels at a higher rate of speed and the local train, while it seems to stop about every five minutes or so along the journey. I chose the faster train, the Acela, to speed things up a bit but it did get me thinking.
As the train passed through the stations, rather than stopping at them, it reminded me of how busy we are in our lives. Very few of us take the time to stop along the way of life to check out what is around us. We speed along our tracks, blowing the horn as we pass by life on our way to the next thing, that next thing that we think will make us happy. We do slowdown from time to time, but we do not come to a complete stop.
How much are we missing by not stopping along the way? Are there things in our lives that we should be doing but we cannot because we are moving along the track of life so fast that we simply run over what is in front of us as we speed along? Do we just watch life pass by at each place where we should be stopping?
The other train takes it's time moving down the track. There are stops along that way that the other train does not make so the train moves at a much slower pace along the track. At each station stop there is time to stand up and move around and take in what there is to see, granted not much because you are at a train station, but you get the idea.
While the train was sitting in one of the stops along my journey it reminded me about the theme of waiting; waiting for the train to move again but also how we wait this time of year during the season of Advent.
In our rush to move to Christmas, get all of our shopping done and attend all of the parties we can, we fly right through the station of Advent. Advent is the season of waiting in expectation for what will come, and that is the Birth of Christ. The season of Advent tells us the story of the young couple, Mary and Joseph, making the journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. Advent reminds us of our need to slow down in life, all of life, but especially this time of year.
Our modern lives move faster and faster each and every day. Like the Acela train, we move through the various stations without even a look around. We keep our heads down and keep moving so we do not get distracted, but that is what Advent calls us to do, get distracted and to slow down.
There are a few weeks left before we celebrate the birth of Christ, take this time to slow down and meditate on what this coming celebration truly means.