THE BEGINNING IS NOW AND WILL ALWAYS BE,
YOU SAY YOU LOST YOUR CHANCE AND THAT FATE BROUGHT YOU DEFEAT,
BUT THAT MEANS NOTHING, YOU LOOK SO SAD,
YOU'VE BEEN LISTENING TO THOSE WHO SAY YOU MISSED YOUR CHANCE.
CHORUS: THERE'S ANOTHER TRAIN, THERE ALWAYS IS,
MAYBE THE NEXT ONE IS YOURS, GET UP AND CLIMB ABOARD ANOTHER TRAIN.
YOU MAY FEEL YOU'RE DONE, BUT THERE'S NO SUCH THING,
THOUGH YOU'RE STANDING ON YOUR OWN,
YOUR OWN BREATH IS KING,
THE BEGINNING IS NOW, DON'T TURN AROUND,
FOR REGRETS OF BAD MISTAKES WILL ONLY DRAIN YOU.
WE CRAWL IN THE DARK SOMETIMES AND THINK TOO MUCH,
FILL OUR HEADS WITH CRAZY THINGS THAT ONLY BREAK OUR HEARTS,
I KNOW YOU'VE SEEN WHAT THIS EARTH CAN DO,
WHEN ITS DRAGGING DOWN ANOTHER LOAD OF US WORRISOME FOOLS.
I KNOW ITS HARD, WE CAN FEEL CONFUSED
CROWN OURSELVES WITH IT ALL 'TILL WE FEEL WE CANNOT MOVE,
BUILDING WORLDS THAT DON'T EXIST
IMAGINATION PLAYS THE WORSE TRICKS.
I was introduced to that song several years ago by some young people in my parish. It is by Pete Morton. You can visit his website at www.petemorton.com or click here to hear the mp3 of Another Train.
I really don’t like the song. I’ve always felt it had a melancholy feel to it that never fit me. The youth of my parish felt it captured the meaning of their religious experience while on a retreat. Unless I can find something blatantly heretical about what a youth wants to do or say in order to express his/her faith, I usually support it. In this case, I went along with their idea. The song is enchanting, and the melody, haunting, so it always stuck with me. I finally found an experience in my life that made the song fit for me.
I woke up today, and took a train to Avila, Spain.
First of all, if anyone is ever going to vacation through Europe, I’ve got to point out to you that there are all of these fascinating towns throughout Europe that are just priceless. They are filled with narrow streets that have tons of neat stores, but no cars, street side restaurants, amazing cathedrals, and too much history to absorb in just an afternoon. Go to places like Perugia, and Padua, and Capri, and Avila. They’re incredible.
Now that I’ve officially done my duty to help the European tourism bureau, the real reason I went to Avila is because of St. Theresa, the reformer of the Carmelite order, who once lived here. Her life was one that led to ecstatic visions of God, and reemphasized the importance of prayer in the Catholic community.
I chose Avila because I knew that if I headed straight to Fatima, Portugal from Montserrat, I probably wouldn’t make it to church today. Avila seemed like a good stopping point, though it made me remember that there are so many places in Europe that have iconic saints which I have not and will not have the time to visit.
If you have downloaded Google Earth onto your computer, you can view my pictorial of St. Therese’s church in Avila by clicking here. The link will also bring up the Cathedral of Avila and general pictures of Avila that you can view by clicking on the folders in the Places menu of your Google Earth browser.
There is only one problem with stopping in Avila on the way to Fatima. How do you get out of Avila and get to Fatima?
I thought the most likely way was to go to Salamanca. So after my quick hop though the walls of Avila, I got back on the train and headed there. Arriving in Salamanca, I realized how much of an American I really am.
You see, I just assume that things are going to happen. If they aren’t happening, I’m going to make something happen. It is an attitude that comes from living in a nation where, if you don’t like the way things are, you just get up and move somewhere else where you do like the way things are. The entire nation was founded on this principle. I should have known better than to go to Salamanca. It turns out St. Ignatius got kicked out of Salamanca for his crazy ideas years ago. I guess I’m in good company.
So I go to the ticket window and say “Quiero ir a Fatima este noche. Hay un tren?” (OK I’ll just assume that you know the rest of the conversation was in Spanish – I said that I wanted to go to Fatima tonight and asked for a train)
The man happily acknowledges my request, finds the train going to Fatima, types some numbers in the computer, and then says. “No. You can’t go.”
“What! What do you mean I can’t go?”
“The train is blocked. The next train is not until Monday, arriving in Fatima at 8:00 PM.”
The man seems quite content with this solution, which just infuriates me. Don’t you get it, mister? I’m an American. The answer “no” is something I find remarkably unsatisfactory. I refuse to accept such a careless retort and the defeatist attitude that goes with it. “No! No?” I’m not going to accept “No” for an answer, and sit around for 48 hours before catching another train. There has to be another train.
“There is no other train.”
You’re kidding me, right!? This is Europe. You can’t spit without hitting a train. There are plenty of trains. I need to get to Fatima by tomorrow! (I didn't really say the "spitting" part in Spanish)
“You will not be able to get to Fatima by tomorrow.”
“How about anywhere in Portugal?”
“No you will not be able to get to Portugal by tomorrow. Monday”
Another sign that I’m an American, the first way to get me to do something is to tell me that it can’t be done.
The man won’t help me, but the woman next to him is showing interest in my case. I change my plight to her station. Please, show me the schedule of trains back to Madrid. She does. I then ask to see a schedule of trains to Lisbon, Portugal.
I say “There. This train arrives in Portugal tomorrow morning. It goes through the night. I want a reservation on that train.”
“But the train back to Madrid only arrives twenty minutes before the train to Lisbon.”
“Well that’s a whole twenty minutes that I’ll have to catch the train!”
“But if it is late, you’ll miss the train.”
“But if I don’t try, I’ll still be here for two days before I can get to Portugal. At least this way I have a chance.”CHORUS: THERE'S ANOTHER TRAIN, THERE ALWAYS IS,
MAYBE THE NEXT ONE IS YOURS, GET UP AND CLIMB ABOARD ANOTHER TRAIN.
I guess I always thought that song was a little bit defeatists the way it sounds. “Just accept the sorrow of your situation and move on.” Today, I found another way of looking at the song. There are numerous possibilities in this world. Just because one answer doesn’t seem to work, doesn’t mean there isn’t another one that does. Keep moving. Keep searching. Keep fighting. You’ll find another way.
The woman issues me the tickets, and perhaps by St. Theresa’s intercession, I passed back through Avila, toward Madrid, caught the overnight train to Lisbon from which I am currently writing you. It is pretty uncomfortable. I didn’t get a bed, just a chair. I’ve been taught not to trust security on trains, especially when you are sleeping, or dozing off. So my laptop is chained to my bag which is chained around my waist. At the same time, the bag is curled up in the seat with me, giving me something to lean my head against so I can try to sleep. I’m on the train, and tomorrow I should be in Portugal, 10 hours from now. I don’t know if I’ll make it to Fatima yet, but you can look forward to reading tomorrow’s blog and finding out what happened.