Two Rails

train railsMany years ago, a wise friend shared with me an image of the two rails of a train track. One rail represents all the good things in life and the places we easily experience God. The other rail represents the places in life we struggle to name as “good” and the places where it seems hard to find God. The reality is the two rails run alongside each other simultaneously to make up the track.

At times, one rail may feel more obvious in our life. Perhaps we are overwhelmed with love, with joy, with kindness, with beauty, and it is hard to notice that the other rail exists. Other times, we may find ourselves overwhelmed with pain and suffering in our life or in others’ lives, so that we cannot see that the other rail exists.

What connects the two rails? On a train track, it’s the crossbeams that make sure the two rails are connected securely so that the rails come together to serve a larger purpose—providing a train the capability to continue on its journey.

What about in our lives? What provides a connection between joy and suffering? Prayer allows the two rails of life to be connected securely. It is through prayer that we can find and name moments of joy and grace in our suffering. It is through prayer that we do not become so blinded by our joy that we forget about the suffering of others. St. Ignatius was wise to have us name the movements of our hearts (consolation and desolation). The two rails of our lives come together as we offer all aspects of our lives to God through prayer and God begins to show us how both rails are necessary to move us forward and continue on a deepened journey of faith.

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Becky Eldredge
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls and The Inner Chapel, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Another marvelous post. On my morning walk I could not stop thinking about what was written. It became became quite clear that the two rails are needed to really move us forward. And Jesus is the crossbeam of the”tie that binds”. We never travel alone, and must always remember to keep praying for others. St Ignatius was very wise.

  2. Nice Article. There are times when I have felt suffering but felt consolation as well but there have been times when I have suffered and felt desolate, angry, frustrated and wanting to give up. I cant help but feel though that when I suffer, God is molding me and shaping me and in that regard I see “suffering” as gift—–as strange as that may sound. I am learning to that when I am in moments of joy and gratitude that this is temporary and is a gift from God that cannot be controlled. In fact the more we control it, I think the more we lose it. Yet another paradox of living the Paschal Mystery. Again, great article and reminder!

  3. As I looked at the picture it struck me that in the present, when we are close to the things that are happening in our lives, the rails don’t seem close together but in the distance, they become one. So it is with our lives, the consolations and the desolations eventually merge to bring us into deep relationship with our God. Thank you Becky.

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