Seen from a passing train
Julius Tsai [Boston,
A MAGNIFICENT, blue-sky day... I
was on a train, wending through the Connecticut
woods in fall. Crossing over abridge, the train passed a bayside park, a patch
of green by the water. hooked up from my book and out the window as the scene
flitted by. An elderly couple was walking, their two dogs cavorting on the
grass. I was about to return to my book, when suddenly I saw the woman raise
her arm and wave to the train —a wide, sweeping joyful wave. And then we were
over the bridge, back in the woods.
I settled back in my seat and
thought about what I had just seen. Was it coincidence that I had lifted my
eyes to look out at precisely the moment when the woman waved? Have I been
hurtling toward this place this time just to receive this message? I knew that
the woman could not see into the darkened windows of the train. She would never
know that I or anyone else had seen her wave. And if anyone on the train had
waved back, it would likewise be hidden from her.
But it was precisely the
unacknowledged nature of her wave that was beautiful to me, that in her joy she
had sent out her greeting to a world that quite possibly would not respond, and
for all she knew, did not respond.
We read that Jesus commanded his
disciples to give as they had been given - freely, with no thought of reward.
Unfortunately, we live in a time where we have come to expect compensation for
everything, payment for our goodness in some form or other. But is life, is
heaven, really to be likened to a cosmic bank account, and our only purpose for
being here is to pile up spiritual capital? Hopefully not, for then we would be
no more than Pavlovian dogs,
drooling on command to receive divine bonbons.
Why were we created at all? Why
does God love us? We may not know now, but we do know that God indeed does
sustain us and love us. Life itself; love, and the hope for things to come —
these are our gifts. And if we have been given so much, ought
we also not act in the same way towards others? For every time we show
even the smallest measure of love for another, we are drawing from that
inexhaustible well of divine love to refresh the world.
When I recall the train ride on
that day, the woman and her wave still linger there in the sun, a reminder of
our common life in a universe where a gesture of love can leap, like a spark,
across time, space, and even understanding.