Fleeting Perspectives

Fleeting Perspectives

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” – Corrie ten Boom

I’m often frustrated by my lack of vision. When I cannot see what is ahead. Regardless of how much I try to control what is ahead, I am unable.

***

I have recently discovered Amtrak trains are an introvert’s dream. A time to sit, exhale, and process with ample leg room. As I am riding on a train through the mountains of Virginia, I am surrounded by beautiful landscape. I keep trying to take a picture to capture the beauty of the blue mountains and green hills up against the dark stormy sky. It is a perfect picture but before I snap the photo, I miss it. The train keeps moving. The mountain view is gone.

I lean my cheek against the window to see when there will be an opening in the line of trees. As hard as I try, I cannot see what is to come. The train keeps moving and we pass a landfill followed by a quarry. At this point I’m frustrated and I put my phone away thinking I have missed the picturesque moment. A few seconds later I look up to see a farm filled with cows on rolling green hills. Just when I thought I missed it.

***

What a metaphor of life. We have a window seat on a train in the mountains of Virginia during a thunderstorm. We want to see the mountains for the whole ride but we only get glimpses of them. Most of our trip is views of backyards and trees.

Yet the mountains come. We don’t know when we will see them. Sometimes we just get a quick view, sigh a quick moment of relief, and go back to the lines of trees. Other times we get a prolonged view, an extended exhale as we see the mountains. I’m learning what I see—mountains or tree line—is out of my power. However, it is within my power how I choose to take in the mountains and hills along with the trees and valleys.

***

I recently went through a breakup. I felt like I was on a train going through a tunnel. I couldn’t see clearly. I couldn’t think clearly. There were no mountains or trees, just a steady presence of hurt and confusion.

This tunnel was longer than others I have been through. I wanted to be in control and speed up the train so I could get out of the pitch black and see a glimpse of light. I was like a hamster on a wheel, spinning, pining and exerting energy only to go nowhere.

In time, I accepted my lack of control and the need to let others in. I wasn’t immediately out of the darkness, but light appeared around me in the form of friends who didn’t want me to walk alone and shared unique encouragement and perspective. They were there the whole time, with me on the train through darkness; I just had to let them in.

***

I’m not to the point where I am thankful for the tunnel. I don’t look on that recent phase of hurt with joy and think, “Wow that was so much fun. Let’s do it again!” But I know there is purpose to the darkness. Do I know what the purpose is? No clue. I’m not sure I ever will fully know. I’m learning “knowing” isn’t the point, and sometimes not knowing is.

***

May we have faith to know the mountains will come, even when all we see is trees and dirt. May we have faith to know light is coming, even when we are in the middle of a tunnel and we don’t know when it will end. May we gracefully accept that we are merely a passengers, not the conductor.


Windrose Magazine Issue 2
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Windrose Magazine is your guide to navigating life in your twenties through a collection of essays, interviews, and advice that will inspire you to chart your own life course, free of comparison.

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