The Station

A few weeks ago my family lost a beloved wife/sister/daughter/mother way too soon and way too suddenly. This also happens to be a time of year when I teach about celebration, which is hard to do right now. But even in the wake of death, there is celebration—I was reminded of this at the beautiful memorial service celebrating my sister-in-law’s life.

In this busy season, I hope that you can enjoy each moment and celebrate what is important to you. Robert J. Hastings wrote an essay called “The Station” that perfectly sums up how easy it is for us to keep looking ahead instead of celebrating the journey itself. I’m keeping this in front of me this holiday season to help me celebrate and acknowledge the right now:


Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision.
We are traveling by train, out the windows,
we drink in the passing scenes of children
waving at a crossing,
cattle grazing on a distant hillside,
row upon row of corn and wheat,
flatlands and valleys,
mountains and rolling hillsides
and city skylines.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination.
On a certain day, we will pull into the station.
Bands will be playing and flags waving.
Once we get there, our dreams will come true
and the pieces of our lives
will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.
Restlessly we pace the aisles,
damning the minutes – waiting,
waiting, waiting for the station.

“When we reach the station, that will be it!”
We cry. “When I’m 18.” “When I buy a new 450sl Mercedes Benz!”
“When I put the last kid through college.”
“When I have paid off the mortgage!”
“When I get a promotion.” “When I reach retirement,
I shall live happily ever after!”

Sooner or later, we realize there is no station,
no one place to arrive.
The true joy of life is the trip.
The station is only a dream.
It constantly outdistances us.
“Relish the moment” is a good motto.
It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad.
It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow.
Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.
Regret is reality, after the facts.

So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles.
Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream,
go barefoot more often,
swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less.
Life must be lived as we go along.

The STATION will come soon enough.

Image by dbnunley. Used under CC BY 2.0 license.
Posted in memory of Christine Van Zomeren.

Posted in Real Life and tagged , , , , , .

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