The Station

One day while I was at home on break from college I was sitting at the kitchen table with my Dad. He shared with me a newspaper article called ‘The Station’, written by Robert Hastings. Over 35 years later, I still have the original cutout from that evening’s paper. It means that much to me.

This 250-word essay has been widely reprinted and circulated. It’s simple but profound message reminds us to embrace the journey of life, live in the moment, and truly cherish all the we have right now.

Tucked away in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We’re traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination–for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the Station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Station.

“Yes, when we reach the Station, that will be it!” we promise ourselves. “When we’re eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!”

From that day on we will all live happily ever after.

Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no Station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The Station is an illusion—it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday’s a memory, tomorrow’s a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday’s a fading sunset, tomorrow’s a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.

So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.

“Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along.

The Station will come soon enough.

As you travel on life’s journey you make the choices on how you want to travel.  A person can be just as happy as he chooses to be. Titles, wealth, notoriety, even jobs are not determinates on the happiness of your journey. Even a street sweeper can have a happy journey. This blog may be the only place you will see Martin Luther King, Jr and Jimmy Buffett linked in thoughts.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say; here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A street sweeper came whistlin’ by
He was bouncin’ every step
It seemed strange how good he felt
So I asked him while he swept
He said “It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the rest
And that makes the day for me”- Jimmy Buffett, lyrics from ‘It’s My Job’, written by Mac McAnally

My Dad added something very significant to the Station essay.  He emphasized the importance of the passengers we meet on our journey, and how they add so much to our life as we learn their God-given talents and life stories.  I remember Dad’s Alaska cruise when he talked about the scenery and all the sights, but his enthusiasm grew when he started talking about the people he met — the fishermen and the village townsfolk.  He found the most rewarding aspect of the trip was meeting new people and learning about their lives.  He was genuinely interested in understanding the people he met on his journey and appreciating them as individuals. When my father talked with someone, at that moment he/she was the most important person in the world to him.

It is also important that we see the journey as more than a “commute” in which we are only concerned with getting from point A to point B. I would rather view it as a ‘road trip’ that involves exploration, detours, and an enjoyment of God’s creation. In keeping with my Dad’s thought, people on road trips are more engaging that people commuting.

A good friend of mine shared with me the expression ‘that salvation is a journey not a destination’. Salvation is more than an act of ‘being saved and accepting Christ’, aka the destination. It is a journey from one domain (man’s) to a higher kingdom (Christ’s). A journey of love, mercy and kindness.  I once heard the analogy of salvation to a plant. A seed does not just instantaneously become rooted and begin to sprout. Becoming a rooted part of a garden takes much watering and cultivation.

Marriage is not a destination and is not simply accomplished by saying “I do” and signing a marriage certificate. Marriage is a life-long journey in a two-sided relationship of love. A healthy marriage’s journey is also more than a commute. Salvation is marriage to Jesus Christ.

With our end station in mind, let’s focus on our journey. Let’s make it more than the grind of a daily commute and let’s welcome and appreciate the fellow passengers we meet.

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