‘The trains were not the worst of it’
It looked terrible; in fact, it was a step below terrible. But as a poor college student planning to get married in a couple of months, it was the only place I could afford.
If I had been Cathy, seeing the place her fiancé had planned as the first home for his new bride, I would have said, “No way!” . . . Love was blind the day I drove her up to see the place where we would begin our married life. On the front of this house, someone had spray-painted in large letters, “LOVE, SEX, PEACE.” There was one good thing about this graffiti: our friends had no problem distinguishing our home from the others around it.
That wasn’t the worst of it. The house sat on the Mississippi Bay. It had flooded so many times that its center had sunk about ten inches, leaving the house in a sort of V- shape. As a result, anyone inside our home was always walking either up or downhill.
But that still wasn’t the worst of it. When it rained, the water collected in the bathroom ceiling, causing it to bow under the weight. I finally took an ice pick and punched a hole that let the rainwater drain into the toilet. You had to remember to put a towel over your head if you were using the facilities during a rainstorm. Otherwise, you would have a river running down your back.
But that wasn’t even the worst of it. A thief had used a chainsaw to steal the window air conditioner. In its place, someone had nailed sheets of raw plywood.
But that wasn’t the worst of it, either. The house sat alongside some railroad tracks. Fifty yards away from our house, there was an intersection. You could always tell when a train was coming. First, the house began to vibrate slightly. As the train got closer, these vibrations turned into an earthquake, literally shaking the entire house and its contents (including the newlyweds).
Still, that wasn’t the worst part. The conductors used our house as the marker to blow their whistles and warn any cars that might be approaching the intersection. THAT was the worst part. About three times a night, the house began the process of vibrating. At the height of the earthquake, an air horn would blast just a few feet away from our bedroom window. Then the sound would disappear—as fast as it had come.
Every once in a while, company came to spend the night. Funny . . . I don’t remember anyone ever staying more than a single night. Sometimes, forgetting to tell them about the trains, my wife and I would awaken in the morning, well-rested and smiling. Our guests would come stumbling out, looking as though they had just escaped from a concentration camp, proclaiming that they hadn’t slept a wink. Inevitably, one of them would blurt out, “Did you hear those trains?”
Of course not! We had become accustomed to them. It is surprising how quickly you can get used to something that is so obnoxious.
We get used to all kinds of trains. Yours could be the TV shows you allow into your home without recognizing how harmful they are. Your train might be the language used in your home: no one even raises an eyebrow when a curse word is spoken. Maybe, instead, your train is the music you allow your children to listen to . . . again and again.
These trains become especially dangerous when we get so used to them that we fail to recognize the ways they threaten our children’s health and well-being. Let me warn you: don’t let your children play near the tracks.
What ever happened to that house? When we moved away, it was condemned. The next annual Mississippi flood claimed it as its own, washing the whole thing down the river.
Maybe that is what you need to do with those trains . . . condemn, and have them washed away. I know Someone who can do both.
Dr. Walker Moore is the founder and president of Awe Star Ministries in Tulsa (www.awestar.org or 1-800-AWE-STAR).