Train Song

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Train Song

I love to travel. Seeing new places, eating new food, experiencing life in a different place.

But, the journey may be my favorite part.

The journey is just as important to me as the destination itself. This is not surprising—I love the chase, the anticipation, the pursuit. Journey is something I encountered on the way to Iona, Scotland, two years ago.

The journey to Iona includes at least couple of planes, a bus, two ferries, and a train. One of the best things about any pilgrimage to Iona is the journey. It is just as important as the time we spend on the island, which is incredibly convenient for me. Others may argue this point, but they are not writing this post, so there you go.

The train ride begins in Glasgow and ends in Oban, and, for me, the train is the part of the journey that I am looking forward to most as I return to Iona this year.

Poetry is my favorite form of writing. I love the different forms that poetry can take and the way that poetry can be a spoken word or put to music or even a combination of both. As a child of the ‘80s, I grew up during the growth of the rap industry and fell in love with the rhythms and beats of a genre of music that was powerful and unfamiliar—at least to my family.

Many of the lyrics and beats of rap music were written during train rides on mass transit systems in large cities. For most of my life I really didn’t understand what it meant to be a rapper and ride on a train. But two years ago, when I was riding to Oban, I could feel the writing process of an ‘80s rapper. At first glance, I do not look like someone who would have much in common with an ‘80s rapper, but, when I was riding on that train, when I was paying attention, I  could connect with someone who is different than me, but in many ways so much like me.

The rhythmic click and clacks of the tracks, the beautiful greenery of rural Scotland, and the forced pause that is the train seat remind me to pay attention.

On the train, I began to truly engage all of my senses, hoping to open myself to the experience that is before me, and remembering that each moment of life is an opportunity to pay attention.

The same rhythms of the train that I heard in 2015 on the way to a small Scottish island inspired the rappers of the ‘80s in New York, D.C., or Chicago, and, when I allow myself to pay attention, I find that I am more connected to others than I realized and, in the end, a child of God on a journey—just like everyone else.

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:

If you pay attention, what do you hear? Take a recording device and record a minute or two of silence. As you play it back, listen to the sounds that surround you all the time. What does the chatter of a child or the rumble of tires or the snoring of a dog teach you about where you are?