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.
♥ LoisRide 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.