ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church

…on the Orient Express

The drama of our lives unfolds on the Orient Express.

One of Agatha Christie’s famous detective stories, later made into a popular motion picture, is Murder on the Orient Express.

In the heyday of train travel, the Orient Express was a special, luxurious train that ran from Europe all across Asia to the Far East.

The first part of its name, “Orient,” comes from the Latin word for “rising,” referring to the sun. The train was eastbound, heading toward the rising sun.

“Express,” of course, means that the train was traveling at high speed and making very few stops en route.

The detective story was about a crime committed on the train during the journey and the search to find out who was responsible. While the train sped through the night, a deadly drama was being played out, its players almost oblivious to the fact that everything was taking place on a moving train.

The drama of each of our lives is also being played out on an orient express.

We’re prone to be so absorbed by the cares and concerns, the preoccupations and pleasures, the responsibilities and sufferings of our daily lives that we’re almost oblivious to the fact that we’re living our lives en route to a final destination.

Our train has its track. There’s a path we’re following, all set out before us – although at any given moment we can see only a limited distance ahead, along a way we’ve never traveled before.

At times we’re so caught up in trying to control our lives that we forget completely that there’s a conductor and engineer ensuring the safety of our journey and our safe arrival at its end.

In New York City, where I live, some homeless people ride the trains endlessly, without a destination. They’re not traveling anywhere. They don’t want to get off the train because they don’t have anywhere to go.

As we ride our orient express, the greatest danger of all is that we become so accustomed to life on the train that we forget we have a destination.

How strange! As the train slows down to a complete stop at the final station, some people don’t want to get off. It’s as though they think they should live on the train forever, as though the final stop were an unavoidable interruption of a never-ending journey.

When we bought our tickets, reserved our seats, and took the train in the first place, it was because we wanted to get someplace. In fact, when the ride is long and weighs heavy upon us, we start to become impatient, counting the days and hours till arrival time.

But, until it comes, we still must live out the drama of our journeying lives as best we can – but never forgetting that we’re en route.

We’re speeding through the darkness and long night of this world and this life toward the dawn.

We’re eagerly looking forward to arriving in the land of the source of light, to living in the warmth of the Risen Son. We’re on our way home.

Msgr. Archimandrite Robert L. Stern, Secretary General of CNEWA

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