Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
There is an expression, “Stop the world, I want to get off.” And there is a song by John Mayer with the title, “Stop this Train.” When life is moving too fast, is overwhelming and we fear the unknown, we just want the world and the speeding train to stop. We need to catch our breath and figure things out. Trains are supposed to go fast, but for the passenger, it’s a chance to stop. The constant rhythm of the train is soothing and makes it easy to relax. There is no place to go, and nothing to do, but gaze out the window at the landscape. “Trains were made for meditation,” said the British poet laureate John Betjeman.
I love traveling by train. When I was young, mother and I took the train from Connecticut to New York City for back-to-school shopping. In those days we dressed up to travel, so that was the highlight for me. When my husband and I were first married we took a once-in-a-lifetime train trip across Canada to visit his brother in Oregon. Shortly before our trip, my beloved grandfather passed away. The 5-day journey across the vast expanse of prairie grasslands and through the stunning beauty of the Rocky Mountains offered me the time and space to grieve and to reflect on what I had loved most about my grandfather.
When our son suggested Chris and I take the auto train from Virginia to Florida after his wedding this past July, we jumped at the idea. What I will treasure most about this overnight trip are the conversations we had about the vow renewal ceremony we were planning for our 40th anniversary. In our son and daughter-in-law’s wedding vows, they included three values that would form the foundation of their married life together. Chris and I were so inspired, that we began to identify the three values that would breath life and focus into our marriage for the next forty years. Had we not traveled by train, our vow renewal ceremony would not have held the poignancy and power that it did for us.
As families and the church begin a new school and program year, our days and lives have the potential to feel like a speeding train, even in the midst of a pandemic. God cries out for our attention, and invites us to stop, look, and listen. Not for a speeding train, but for that still small voice urging us to ponder what is truly important in our lives. When life feels overwhelming, perhaps you can bring yourself to a stop and imagine yourself sitting on a train, gazing out the window.
Director of Children’s Ministry
For those who are overwhelmed:
Lord, when my heart is overwhelmed, overwhelm me with Your peace. Help me to slow down, maybe even stop. Open my eyes to see signs of your presence. Take my thoughts and replace them with your thoughts, and as you do, open my ears to listen. Amen.
Create a vision board. Inspire your children to put their goals and what’s important to them on paper! Gather magazines and catalogs for cutting up, a poster board, stencils, stickers, stamps, markers, or washi tape for embellishing. Then ask your child what their wishes are for the upcoming year (subjects they want to learn or improve on, activities they’re curious to try, or their hope to make a new friend). Have them clip and paste pictures and words that exemplify those dreams. Hang the finished board wherever they study. Adults can do this too!
Get the Wiggles Out! Pick one of these free Wiggle Brain Break cards to keep your child’s brain and body moving! Regardless of where and how your child is learning during the upcoming school year, they can use these during a break, lunch time, and before and after school! Adults need to get the wiggles out too!