Finding Joy in the Journey

It was a sweet, peaceful diversion during a strange, stress-filled summer.

Molly was away at youth camp, and Lilly and I were busy running errands and visiting my mom at the rehab hospital. About midweek, though, we took a break from all the running around to mark something off her summer bucket list.

We drove to the city and spent a couple of hours meandering around the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, paying special attention to the gallery of Impressionist art.

We could have put it off even longer—there were plenty of other tasks and responsibilities demanding our attention that week. But spending time with my girl at a place we both love seemed like the best possible use of our morning.

Our decision to seize the moment that day reminds me of my father’s favorite essay—“The Station” by Robert J. Hastings. When my dad shared first shared this with me many years ago, I liked it so much that I printed it out and framed it.

It now hangs on the wall in my entry hall, with a wooden cutout of the word peace positioned directly above it.

I have a feeling I’m not the only one who might need the wisdom that flows from this short piece of writing, which is why I tracked down the publisher and obtained permission to share “The Station” with you today.

Read it thoughtfully. Savor the imagery. Most importantly, take the message to heart. Life really is too short to do otherwise.

The Station by Robert J. Hastings

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 of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our 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 18 . . . win that promotion . . . put the last kid through college . . . buy that 450 SL Mercedes-Benz . . . pay off the mortgage . . . 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 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 the regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow.

“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.

♥ Lois

Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. Click To Tweet

“The Station” appeared in the Southern Illinois University Press’s publication, A Penny’s Worth of Minced Ham: Another Look at the Great Depression by Robert J. Hastings. Copyright © 1986 by the Board of Trustees, Southern Illinois University; reprinted by permission of the publisher.

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community and Grace & Truth.

23 Responses to Finding Joy in the Journey

  1. Tomorrow belongs to God–truly said. Life is all about remembering the sweet memories of yesterday. There is no need to think about the tomorrow–because it belongs to God. Really appreciate your thoughts!

  2. Brenda says:

    Lois, thank you for sharing that writing piece. I love that, and can see why it was your dad’s favorite. I’m trying to live in the moment this summer myself. What a peaceful way to live. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Glad you and Lilly were able to stop and smell the art ( 🙂 ) this week. Hope your mom is doing well & Molly’s having a great week at camp. 🙂

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You’re right, Brenda … this is a peaceful way to live. Molly loved camp (it was her first time to go), and the art museum was definitely a highlight of our summer so far. I hope the rest of the summer is restful for you, my friend!

  3. That is amazing and we waste so much time and energy on the past and the future. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Jill says:

    Lois-I love this “the journey is the joy”! Amen! This is a year of joy for me and this speaks so much to what I am learning and trying to apply. Thanks so much for your thoughts and sharing this with us! This summer I too am relishing the small and meaningful joyful journey moments!

  5. Eat more ice cream. Definitely. 🙂 That’s a beautiful essay. And how wonderful that you went to the museum with your daughter. Memories are made of that stuff. (My kids and I always remember a special day we spent at the Met, worth every penny of the entrance fee we paid.)

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m so glad we went to the art gallery too, Betsy. My younger daughter doesn’t care for such places, and my husband always likes to go much more slowly through them than Lilly and I do. So it worked out well for us to do it together. 🙂 I would love to go to the Met someday too.

  6. Lisa Appelo says:

    Oh wow, does that ever hit home, Lois! “That station is an illusion .. it constantly outdistances us.” Yes and yes! I have been realizing, struggling, learning to live in the in-between. Love this so much!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Lisa, it’s such a process, isn’t it? I’m with you in the in-between … and resting in the truth that God has good plans for us even here! Good to hear from you this week, my friend!

  7. This gives a new slant, in my mind, on Psalm 118:24. Relishing the moment as we go through life will certainly give us more joy.
    And the paintings!! Monet, I’m guessing? My husband and I visited Monet’s garden when we went to Paris. It was a beautiful experience made even more beautiful by the fact that it rained; I didn’t know so many beautiful umbrellas existed! A sea of beautiful umbrellas wound along the paths through an already beautiful garden. I wonder if I got a picture of that with a camera or only with my mind? I ought to go searching.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Yes, Ruth … the top painting is a Monet. (I can’t remember the artist of other one.) That is so cool that you got to visit Monet’s garden … it sounds absolutely lovely! We have an arboretum near where we live that has a section called “Monet’s Garden” … it has a lot of pinks and purples and whites in it. I’m sure it doesn’t even come close to replicating the real thing, of course, especially during a shower! If you find a picture of the umbrellas, you’ll have to post it … I would love to see!

  8. Lesley says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Lois. It’s so true, we have to make the most of today instead of putting all our hopes in reaching some imaginary “station” where everything will be resolved. I’m glad you were able to take some time to enjoy the art.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      It was a good morning, Lesley … I’m glad we did it too. The imagery of the station has impacted the way I think for many years … it’s a powerful illustration, isn’t it? Hugs, friend!

  9. So delighted you shared this essay Lois, it’s wonderful! “Only today is there light enough to love and live” is my favorite line of the piece, but I also love his coupling of a popular motto with Scripture. Amen to joy today. Glad you and Lilly could go take in the art!

  10. Anita Felzke says:

    Loved “The Station”!

  11. Liz says:

    Love it! Lately my kids have taken to reminding me how much longer before they leave home… While we usually giggle and joke about it, that realization is setting in and I don’t want to waste a moment… Blessings on your TODAY!

  12. Dear Lois, what a vivid reminder that it’s today that counts. Thank you for sharing one of your dad’s treasures. Only today I noticed that you live in the KC area; me, too! We live in a southern suburb, how about you?

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You’re welcome, Alice. The essay is wonderful by itself, but it does make it more special for me knowing that it is my dad’s favorite. So nice to connect with you this week on a geographic level! 🙂

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