Old time trains, Mother Teresa, Jesus

Yesterday, while out and about doing priest stuff, I stopped along the river road of the Nantahala Gorge – part of which is in my parish – to take the above 14 second video of The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad passenger train that is complete with dining car.

I only wish I could have recorded the iconic chug-chug of the engine, the squeal of steel on steel around the endless curves, the ever-so-loud horn sounding for no apparent reason other than there might be a panther or bear or elk on the tracks, or perhaps a wild boar as big as a cow in these parts of the upper ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains. The horn is surely sounded for atmospherics what with all the tourists on board.

The train doesn’t have any set destination. It just travels along, stops, and then reverses course. But it’s all spectacularly beautiful, especially for the city slickers on board. I’ve never been on this particular train, but the locals also love to climb aboard.

If it’s shocking to see all that smoke belching out of the engine-works up front, try driving behind a pickup accelerating uphill, you know, one that’s been modified to belch out at least as much smoke as seen in the video above. Those modifications seem to be one of the local pass-times. I can’t imagine how expensive fuel and oil costs must be even for a short trip.

Meanwhile, I recall another similar train on the far side of the world whose passenger back in the day was the now canonized Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

From the Vatican website:

“On 10 September 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration,” her “call within a call.” On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life. Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.” “Come be My light,” He begged her. “I cannot go alone.” He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.”

mother teresa of calcutta

  • With something so very mundane as a ride on a train, one can be with Jesus.
  • With something so very mundane as anything whatsoever in our lives, one can be with Jesus.



Filed under Saints, Vocations

5 responses to “Old time trains, Mother Teresa, Jesus

  1. nancyv

    Amen to your message. Another thing I thought about as you mentioned the “train just travels along, stops, and then reverses its course” is that this is somehow an analogy to something – just haven’t figured it out, but for some strange reason, is comforting – or disturbing. I hate when that happens in my head!

    Anyway, this made me want to buy you a couple of tickets to take the train, but you’d have to figure out the a’mazing’ schedule.

    I’d send you the $ if you would go with a friend! Train rides are fun and you’d be glad you did. We took a train ride out to an old ranch in AZ and had a grand time.

    • Father George David Byers

      I would scared to get on the train. I know they’re continuously changing out the ties. I’ve seen some not yet on that route, here in town, in Andrews, and you could about put your hand right through them. Yikes! I’m such a chicken. But still…

  2. Aussie Mum

    I remember travelling in steam trains in the 1950s when they were operating between north-western NSW and Sydney. In those days, my parents and I along with the families of other railway workers lived in tents beside the railway line in our rural community, while awaiting fibro (asbestos) housing being built by the government’s housing commission. No running water or electricity in those tent communities, and no floor in ours although some had floors. How different life was then.

  3. sanfelipe007

    ” He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. ”

    Today I made breakfast for the volunteers and attendees of our annual “Fun-Fest.” A fund raiser for the Parish school as well as a community building effort. I left to take a break (I am on this break right now) and on the way to my vehicle, I noticed an elderly man dressed in tatters (obviously homeless) walking up to the Church slowly and with broken gate. I felt my heart ache not just for the love this man was rightfully due, but because of my refusal to grant it as I got into my car and drove away. As Father points out “misericordia,” except I did not run to meet him halfway. I left Jesus to fend for himself. “Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.