It was a foggy morning. Nancy and I were waiting for Hope our daughter (who turned 23 yesterday). She was riding on the Lake Shore Limited from New York City. She’d only been away for a week. She’s been gone much longer before, but we were looking forward to seeing her, hearing her stories. We find hope in Hope.
We went to the station in Waterloo, Indiana. It’s more of a shelter than a station. There’s more of street than a parking lot. With fifty people getting on the train, and fifty people getting off the train, there were more cars than parking places. We parked a block away.
We heard the whistle. Hope was coming. Nancy walked up to the station. I stayed with the car. Then I walked up the hillside toward the track. I wanted to see the train arriving through the fog. Hope was almost here.
The engine approached and traveled past me. The cars followed, and stopped. I went back to the car to wait. I knew it would take a long time while Hope disembarked and found Nancy.
But when I looked up, Hope came walking up the road with Nancy. Tired, carrying a backpack, smiling.
As always, Hope was worth waiting for.
I thought about how often I look for hope to arrive on the train, with the loud engine and the bright light. I wait for hope to be huge and overwhelming and impressive. Like Elijah waiting in a cave to God to arrive, I want the earthquake or the fire or the wind. Blow away the fear, burn away the doubt.
And hope almost never comes that way.
Most often, hope is walking along a path running from Galilee to Jerusalem, a still small voice, a daughter on the road saying, “hi dad.” Hope walks up. And alongside.