God rides Metra, Train 1216 out of Downers Grove
by Dave Pfeifer, Covenant Companion
Awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep!1
I routinely commute to downtown Chicago for my work at least twice a week on the 6:30 AM train out of Downers Grove to Union Station. I walk to the station through the quiet neighborhoods; for the most part it is just me and the early dog-walkers. I enjoy the stillness; it invites my mind into a quiet, prayerful place. This time of year, I walk through the fallen leaves and colorful trees in the cool pre-dawn, accompanied by an occasional fox or coyote or the call of an owl. I let my mind wander – to thoughts of those who have requested or need my prayers, the needs of the world, the beauty of the morning, the rhythm of my breath.
A new day is dawning for all those who weep.
When I arrive at the Main Street Station, I usually have several minutes to wait before the train arrives. Other commuters begin to materialize out of the darkness: grizzled veteran commuters like me, younger people I imagine at the beginning of their careers, students, medical professionals wearing scrubs, travelers with luggage in tow. We all move to our preferred spots on the platform, some near the front of the train so they can launch themselves into the day as quickly as possible, others choosing places where seating is more abundant and some, like me, choosing the quiet car closer to the rear. I watch my commuter community and I invite a silent blessing on all of us assembled on the platform.
The people in darkness have seen a great light. The Lord of our longing has conquered the night.
The train arrives and the people board. I find a seat in the quiet car. I load my electronic ticket and ready it for the conductor. I put in my earbuds, open my music app, and select a guided meditation (I especially like the meditations by John Davisi and Sonia Kreitzer). Some time after the pandemic, we stopped taking a physical newspaper. As a result, I needed to find a diﬀerent way to pass the time during my train ride into Chicago. On a whim, I typed “guided meditations” into the search bar for the music app and turned up an entire playlist of various meditations that are now an integral part of my commute. As the suburbs speed by and the city springs up outside the train windows, I find my sacred space on Metra Train 1216, focus on my breath, connect with God, and open myself to whatever gifts this new day will oﬀer.
I have come to treasure this part of my routine. It helps me approach the day and whatever gifts and challenges it will bring from a place that is centered in my relationship with God and receptive to whomever and whatever I will encounter. It is a tiny, insignificant oﬀering of a small bit of my time, but, like every other little bit of our lives in which we create God-space, God has taken up residence and created a life-giving garden oasis at the start of my day that flows through into the rest of my day. I wish I had discovered this thirty years earlier when I began my life as a commuter!
Usually I have some time after my mediation ends before the train reaches Union Station. I spend the time watching the cityscape. The train passes neighborhoods, hospitals, schools and churches as we approach the station. The song, City of God, frequently plays in my mind as I think of all of the diﬀerent lives, hopes, dreams, pains and needs embedded in the scenes passing by and I oﬀer a prayer of blessing for my City of God.
Let us build the city of God.
May our tears be turned to dancing!
For the Lord, our light and our love, has turned the night into day!
- City of God, Daniel L. Schutte and New Dawn Music, 1981 ↩︎