Arriving early to the train station, the woman sat down on the hard, wooden bench to wait. Her hair was gray and cut short. She wore a cream-colored sweater and gray sweat pants. She was tired.
She wouldn’t board her train for some time, but it didn’t matter to her; she needed time to think. It was a long day, a long couple of years, when she really thought about it. Battling cancer, she thought she had it beat, but now with a report that it was back, she knew the end was near. She was heading Home.
She wasn’t all that surprised. Loss of appetite and weight loss tipped her off, a few months back, but she tried to dismiss it for the winter blues. She’d half prepared her heart for the inevitable, but now she knew for sure, and needed some time to process - time to process her future, time to process her past.
As she sat silently, people hustled past her. Babies cried, toddlers tried to escape the grip of their mother’s hands, old people shuffled by, some with canes, unstable on their feet. Businessmen, with mobile phone earpieces, carried briefcases and wore busyness on their shoulders like cloaks. Young, fashionable women walked briskly, preoccupied with their futures, and trying to find their way through each day.
Sometimes, people stopped and sat down near her.
She overheard conversations.
A young couple discussed plans for their new baby. They talked about names and decorating the nursery and how they would parent.
A college student, with ear buds budding from her ears, listened loudly to music, while reading a thick textbook.
A middle-aged man spoke solemnly on his cell-phone to a medical professional. He was rushing home to see his father, who had a stroke. Decisions had to be made – hard ones.
A married couple sat down behind her, arguing. It was clear that their marriage was heading down the wrong road, and they were desperately trying to blame the other for the outcome.
Young men laughed loudly as they grouped together, readying themselves for a lively vacation.
Joy and pain and busyness and dreams and death and disappointment were everywhere.
As the woman sat, listening to and watching others, memories from her own life began to flash before her eyes. The expectancy of a child, the loneliness of the teen years, vacations she’d ventured on, the struggles through her marriage, and the times she cared for others.
She had to admit. There were lots of ups and downs, even dark days, days when she wondered if they would ever end.
The deep, booming voice of the train station manager called out over the loud speaker, breaking in to her thoughts.
“All aboard on track three. The train is departing in five minutes.”
The woman picked up her bag and stood straight up as she straightened out her shirt with her hands. She found her balance, both in body and mind, and made her way to the train platform to board the train.
Looking down the long rows of seats, she picked a seat facing forward, and sat down. She settled her items around her, and pulled a blanket out of her bag. She covered her legs to keep them warm.
After a few minutes, she felt the train jerk forward, and then backward. The wheels of the train clicked slowly below her feet. Gradually, the train made it’s way through the dark tunnel, out of the station.
She thought back, again, to her life. She thought of the people that she saw in the station, and wondered if they had hope. She wondered if they had The Hope.
She rested her head back on the seat, looked out the window, and pictured Jesus. It wouldn’t be long now, until she was Home. In the midst of dark days of the past and the uncertainty of the future, she knew He was there, and He was He was bright and warm and waiting.
As she approached the opening at the end of the station, the light in the train car grew brighter, and she felt His light grow brighter within her.
And she smiled, as she headed home with hope, looking forward to forever being with Jesus.
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