metaphor - a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, especially something abstract
Kristen and David hosted New Year’s Eve last year. As I prepared for my time with them and our friend Monica, I was intentional about my outfit, make-up, hairstyle, and accoutrements. Although a quaint occasion at a home with a few friends, New Year’s Eve occurs only once annually and I enjoy getting dressed for the occasion.
Typically, when we gather together, we dine potluck style. Each of us brings a dish to create our shared meal. Kristen and David were insistent on providing the main dish, a vegan Pad-Thai. They also provided beverages, including a pineapple juice cocktail or wine from the local winery. I put together simple hors d'oeuvres and light dessert, Monica provided the same. For certain the table would be thick with food, a prop for the fellowship which would truly fill us.
Kristen and David live off a county road in Whitley County. I began my drive out their way at sunset. If you recall, New Year’s Eve last year was cold and blustery. As I drove away from Fort Wayne toward Kristen and David’s home, I navigated a dusting of snow criss-crossing the dim-lit roads as New Year’s Eve traffic passed on my left heading in directions opposite me. As well, traffic passed me on my left going my same direction eager to get to their destinations faster than my law-abiding speed permitted.
I relied whole-heartedly on my GPS to assist me with arriving safely to my destination. I was making gains and nearly there. I turned onto county road 200W closing in on my friends’ home when in front of me was not only train tracks, but a train. This would not have been a big deal, as trains come and trains go. However, this particular train on New Year’s Eve was parked. Parked as in sitting there for the foreseeable future, stayed, still, stationary, not moving any time soon.
I stopped my car at the tracks, eyes fixed on what felt like a very personal obstacle. I phoned Kristen. She did not answer. I felt my face create an expression revealing sincere frustration. I searched my maps app on my phone for an alternate route when my phone rang and I heard Kristen on the line. “Train on the tracks?” she asked. “Yes,” I said in a tone she recognized as disheartened. “It’s just sitting there, correct? Not moving,” she confirmed. “Yes,” I confirmed. “There is an alternate route,” she continued to give me directions as I turned my car around listening to her while I drove along the unfamiliar route. I listened to Kristen through the phone as she directed me. I felt my frustration change to hope. As I drove, making left turns, then right turns, then left again, then right again according to Kristen’s directions, I recognized the intersection I would have met earlier had the train not disrupted my route. I made it my hosts’ driveway and parked my car. I made it.
Our evening together was festive, fun, and filling. Time with friends can offer such satisfaction and this occasion with my friends did just that, especially after overcoming a seeming obstacle to a celebratory evening. But what this particular New Year’s Eve offered me in addition to previously mentioned, was the gift of metaphor. I trust this gift was purposeful for my use throughout 2018. I recall several instances in 2018 when in route, committed to plans of which I was conscious, when something disrupted my route and my plans. I can remember a few specific instances when I was met with the metaphorical “parked train.” Feeling frustrated was my appropriate human response. But what else did I do other than meet my circumstance with feelings of frustration ? I made a call for help, reaching out to a friend, a family member, my Mentor, Jesus . . .
Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
As I transition into 2019 I trust this “parked train” metaphor will continue to serve me. Consciously living through each moment, day, week, and month of 2019, I wonder which perceived obstacle will I receive as a gift for the purpose of deepening my relationships with friends, family, Mentor, and Jesus. I am invited to turn from obstacle to answers available through relationships I have with people who are willing to help me and Jesus who loves me and wants to help me. New Year’s Eve last year I could not get around the parked train without help. I made it to where I was meant to be, but only with help.
In the 2019 New Year, may you find yourself where you are meant to be, hopeful, receiving the gift of help from your friends, family, Mentors, and Jesus wherever you are met with a “parked train.”