mind the gap


When you ride on a train, do you ever stop to listen? No, not to the one-sided phone calls, the conversations and (if you are unlucky) the snoring of the person next to you. Have you ever listened to the sound of the train itself? The regular clackety-clack of the train wheels as they travel unerringly along the track. Have you ever stopped to wonder why they go clackety-clack? It’s the gaps. Between the sections of rail are gaps that are left to allow for expansion on warm days. This is the traditional way of laying rails. Faster tracks nowadays are welded so that there is no clackety-clack and solve the expansion issue in other ways.

I have a busy day ahead. Wall-to-wall meetings with my colleague, an ecumenical group in Colchester, the police (!) and a prayer meeting in the evening. I don’t mind being busy, in fact I prefer it to having nothing to do. But I am conscious that it leaves little space for reflection and processing. I need gaps, just like the rails. [Yes, that’s the tenuous link!]

Those gaps allow not just for the meetings to expand (as they sometimes do) but also for me to think about what has happened and anticipate the next event. They allow me to pray consider and ponder.

This is important. If you doubt me, look at Jesus and his ‘time outs’. He made sure that he had space in his life. If he needed it…

On vacation, a man and his wife check into a hotel. The husband wants to have a snack at the restaurant, but his wife is extremely tired so she decides to go on up to their room to rest.

She lies down on the bed… just then, a train passes by very close to the window and shakes the room so hard she’s thrown out of the bed.

Thinking this must be a freak occurrence, she lies down once more. But just a few minutes later a train again shakes the room so violently, she’s pitched to the floor.

Exasperated, she calls the front desk and asks for the manager who says he’ll be right up.

The manager is skeptical but the wife insists the story is true.

“Look… lie here on the bed — you’ll be thrown right to the floor!” So he lies down next to the wife.

Just then the husband walks in. He takes one look at the manager lying in bed with his wife and yells, “Hey! What are you doing in here!?”

The manager calmly replies, “Would you believe I’m waiting for a train?”


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