Hope On A Train


As I  mentioned a few Devos ago, I have this fantastic book that prompts you to write a poem about something different daily. 

This book was a godsend because it lets my mind wander and enables me to express some creativity in crafting poetry, a discipline I am eager to explore further. 

While I  haven't written a poem every single day since I received the book, I have written nearly forty, and the one I am sharing in this Devo is one of my favorites.  I'll explain why in a moment.  

The prompt for this poem was to write about riding on public transportation, but it ended up being about something else entirely, as you will soon see:  

On The "El"

The Chicago winter sky was grey and heavy
on the night in question, as if there was a question
about the night, or the way I felt underneath the 
grey, heavy sky. 

I felt hopeful, in case you did have a question, 
or were wondering at all; I remember it well, 
that feeling of hopefulness, and that it was about 
to snow, not yet,  almost. 

You could feel it in the air before you felt it on 
your face--the heavy air, with the clouds low and 
reflecting back the light from the city below, 
making it seem like day. 

And there was me, ensconced in the rattling, 
metal tube that wound it's way in rafters above 
the streets that were blurry and bright through 
the scratched, scarred glass. 

I was feeling hopeful, as you may recall, filled with 
a sense of joy,  anticipation of the next bend in 
the road, or the tracks, or the streets below, smiling 
to myself, afraid of nothing. 

The clouds above held their secrets for a while, 
the grey of the sky was bright, not yet foreboding, 
and the swaying of the train moved me back and forth, 
lulling me to sleep. 

This poem captured a moment many years ago as I rode on the "El" train in Chicago.  It also captured my feeling on a particular day when I felt great hope for the future and anticipation about what was next. 

I was in seminary then and working as a youth director of a large church in Evanston, Illinois.  The night I was writing about was a Friday night on the train, coming home after an energetic youth group gathering. 

So there's this feeling of hope, but you can also sense something else if you pay attention to what's gathering in the sky.  You could call this poem "The Calm Before The Storm," I suppose. It's the moment before the moment.  

Life is like this, isn't it?  We find moments of hope, dream about the possibilities of tomorrow, and have no idea what tomorrow may bring.  There may be a storm gathering.  There may be unexpected frozenness.  There may be heartache in the future, for all we know. 

But if we are willing to embrace peace and hope in the moments of calm, we can also find rest for our souls that will give us the strength to face whatever may occur.  

Sometimes we need to simply rest---even in the face of uncertainty.  Sometimes we must let hope rule in our hearts instead of giving in to fretting and worrying about the future.  

Writing this poem helped me reconnect with a moment when I was full of hope, even amid uncertainty about where life was leading me.  It brought me peace to write it.  

At that moment on the train, I had no idea the challenges and heartbreak that would follow in years to come, nor did I know what triumphs and joys would follow either.  

But I will never forget the hope or the peace I experienced as I watched the streets below go by outside the train window. 

Maybe you are in a similar moment right now.  You are uncertain about what tomorrow may bring and are tempted to give in to worry or worse.  

May you find peace and hope amid what you don't know.  May you rest in the knowledge that you are held by God, come what may.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  


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