Getting On Track

Spiritography Day 8: Imaging the Sacred in Everyday Life

I found myself standing on a set of railroad tracks today, imagining them crisscrossing the countryside, cutting through sleepy towns and winding around bustling cities. Trains have always evoked a sense of adventure and romance in me.  As a child, I couldn’t fall asleep unless I heard the sound of a freight train rumbling by our home.  I’d sneak out of the house to sit on the back porch just to listen to them…they were my lullabies, my reassurance…

People are a lot like trains. We make scheduled and unscheduled stops in life, but eventually we make it to our destination. We move at different speeds along the way. Some of us are like express trains, moving quickly through life, without any stops in between. Others are like luxury trains, traveling new routes, going to unknown places, enjoying the view.

We don’t know where the tracks of our lives will lead us. They lie ahead, pointing us toward new horizons, and it’s up to us to follow where they lead. If we see ourselves going in a direction that is unsatisfying, we have the choice to change course to find a more fulfilling path to follow. We can always get ourselves on the right track with our choices and decisions.

So, today, I offer you the spirit of trains in poem and pictures as we travel the rails of our lives…

“Juncture” by Penny McDaniel

“The 5850 Crossing the Tennessee”

on meeting a sleeping train

the infinite rails stretch

past the horizon

calling me to follow

its curves and bends

like a poem

that never tells me

where it is taking me

when i begin to compose.

the tracks are quiet

and i balance myself,

one foot in front of the other,

a tightrope of steel shimmering

in the sizzling southern sun.

a train rests ahead,

engines purring,

a strong diesel scent

marks its territory,

mixes with honeysuckle air,

a string of cars snakes behind

carrying cargo and secrets.

i could stow away, live

the life of a wanderer,

but i have no need

to tame this train,

whose dark, metal skin

i tremble to touch.


“9832” by Penny McDaniel

Photo by Penny McDaniel

“John Knight’s Crossing at No. 2 Hill, Nauvoo, Alabama” by Penny McDaniel

8 thoughts on “Getting On Track

  1. Judy - Pedagogical Artist

    Sheer delight, dear Penny, your words and your photos, mesmerizing!
    I can most certainly relate to your “relationship” with the sound of trains, particularly if it is something you experienced from early childhood.

    As for your metaphor – life is like following tracks … It raises an interesting point to ponder over: tracks have been laid by someone else – in other words, following them to some extent is like following a pre-determined destination. While we have the freedom of choice, which tracks to follow, someone else has already created the path and to some extent its destination for us.

    Thanks for a joyous experience.
    HUGS <3

    1. Penny McDaniel Post author

      Hi Judy.

      I’ve always had a fascination with trains and train noises…they are a sacrament and sign of grace to me.

      You do raise an interesting point about tracks being laid by someone else and about being on a predetermined course. Who knows…maybe it’s about trusting the powerful force within us that guides us on our journey. If we choose not to be the engineer, directing our course, we can be the passenger, trusting in that which is greater than us.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your insight. Much appreciated!

  2. anonymous

    I always think of the movie STAND BY ME…when the boys go on an adventure by taking railroad trains and allowing them to take a risk and see whats out there… they do….
    its resonant in me bc train tracks symbolizes the path of my own life. …it states keep on moving and have trust….
    thanks for the blogs n making me think….

    1. Penny McDaniel Post author

      I’m so glad this resonated with you, “anonymous.” The tracks will lead us somewhere though we don’t always know where…that’s the adventure of it 🙂


    1. Penny McDaniel Post author

      A woman after my own heart! I wave to the conductors, too! I live where there is an abundance of freight trains, and I never get tired of the sounds. In fact, I hear one in the distance now!



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