A few years back, Robert Hastings wrote an essay he titled “The Station.”
The point of his piece is that we humans tend to spend our lives focusing on some future time when we will be all satisfied with our lives. But the tomorrow of our dreams never comes.
When we finally get that MA from college, or as parents. when we see our last kid leave home or when we retire, or when science discovers the vaccine that will allow us to return to normal, then we will reach the STATION. All will be well. Not so fast.
Hastings reminds us “Sooner or later we must realize that there is no Station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all, The Station is an illusion.” He says yesterday belongs to history, tomorrow belongs to God.”
Re-reading The Station has been a lick in the pants for me. During this settle- at -home time. hardly a day goes by when I am thinking “Man, I hope this quarantine phase of the virus comes to an end quickly. I want to return to normal when I can watch my baseball and my son can get back to work and our family doesn’t need to wear one of those masks to get some bread and milk.
So, God forgive me I sleep too much, watch second rate TV shows, snack on junk food and kill time while waiting to arrive at the station which never comes. Meanwhile the present moment is passing me by. My todays are wasted waiting for what? An illusion.
It’s not just in time of war or depression that we chase these illusions. Even prior to the Coronavirus, I wasn’t completely satisfied with my life. Not even close. There was always that elusive something that I yearned for. If someone asked me “How are you doing?” Of course I would answer “fine.” But going deeper I knew there was that secret place in my heart that I was still missing a piece, a completion.
It is only gradually that I have had to acknowledge that in this life I will never reach that station. Call it the human condition. Call it what you will. Robert Browning wrote “Man’s reach will always be beyond his grasp or what’s a heaven for?”
Heaven is just another name for experiencing that deep, incomprehensible love we have been created to enjoy. We have some idea of what this love might be like, foreshadowed in the love a mother has for her child, or in the innocent love of children or the heroic love that makes a person lay down his/her life for another.
Only then will our immortal souls find that station for which we have yearned. And we will see our God no longer in a dark mirror but face to face.