Morning Train

CC BY-NC, Home for Good, Flickr
The Shinkansen of Japan
CC BY-NC, Home for Good, Flickr

The number of friends and co-workers that came to see me off that morning overwhelmed me. I never figured I mattered as much. The occasion effervesced with cheer, but it was also awkward. Nobody wished to see the elephant in the room. A year of good memories collected in this final moment slowly infecting with sadness.

When the time came to move to the platform, the sadness became palpable. Some could hold their tears no longer, and I was pressed to see everyone to say goodbye. Then, the train, a bullet train, arrived, as much an interruption to its own arrival. The guys helped me load my bags.

I took my seat and gazed at my friends, refusing to take my eyes off of them. There was no guarantee that I’d ever see them again. The women wept sorely. I mouthed words and made faces, fighting my own tears. I loved these people and never had an earlier time done more to convince me of this than this moment.

I ached at their grief and finally turned my face and wept. After several minutes, the departure bell sounded and, in seconds that would wait no longer, I was whisked away to be all but standing at my destination.

Isn’t this what death is, the unbearable parting with one love for the long awaited greeting of another?

I always remember this overseas farewell scene when I ponder death. My questions about the life to come are settled, and I have no fear of death or dying, as I did when I was young. I do wonder how my end will occur. I imagine the moment to be like the shock of an off-guard punch leaving me to heave celestial winds that renew my every fiber with the life of God.

Who will be the angel that greets me? Is my journey direct? Who will be in my greeting party? How long until I stand before God? And will Christ embrace me and, in that glorious moment, make me everlastingly holy? Just some of my endless questions…

Death is often my pillow thought, but I get excited when I consider it. There is no hopeless sadness about it, and neither do I have a morbid fascination or longing to die. Instead, I will live heartily and joyfully until it is my turn to wonder no more.