Last Train Home

There is a song written by Pat Metheny, one of my favorite jazz guitarists/musicians/songwriters, called “Last Train Home”. I’ve listened to it many times, but I only heard it today. When I heard it, I knew what it meant to me. My eyes . . . I sort of . . . cried.

The relentless background beat was that of a hard-pulling steam locomotive. The beautiful melody, Pat provided expertly with his electric sitar. A touch of melancholy swept over me, then a sense of sentimental longing for something I can’t explain. You really must listen to an authentic version of this song to grasp what I’m saying. I can’t exactly explain it, but I had a sudden knowing of the song’s meaning for me
– and there was a soldier.

~ ~ ~

The soldier was nested softly in a grey blanket within a pinebox coffin covered by a colorful flag. The casket sat on its bier in a train car which was colorless except for the flag and some bunting around the top corners. The wheels of the car made ka-clackka-clack sounds as they moved over the joints in the track. And there was also a soldier.

This soldier stood at attention, overlooking the casket, at its foot. He held his rifle in both hands as though he was ready to use it at need. The long, narrow bayonet was fixed. I don’t know why. Just thought it would be a nice touch. The Major had commanded him to this duty, as he could spare no others. Guard. Escort. Reggie. His best friend since they were regimentally thrown together. They were from the same town, it turned out. Reggie was younger, weaker, and much more courageous than he . . .

Reggie had died by his side.

He’d badly injured his back carrying Reggie’s body over his shoulder, away from the battle. A tear formed. No! No emotions! I’m on duty! He listened to the distant incessant sound of the steam locomotive pounding out the beat as though trying to hammer the tracks flatter, smoother. The powerful sound of steam pistons and valves intensified as the engine tackled the hundred-mile incline to a higher region. Mountains. Home.

He’d been fortunate that the aged, but zestful, conductor sympathized with his plight. He resourcefully arranged an old car. This was the last train headed out for at least a week. He and Reggie would have had to wait in misery. Ka-clack-ka-clack, relentlessly. The last car on the last train home. Certainly the last train home ever for Reggie. He was the best of us all. It should have been me . . .

He suddenly realized that his finger was tightening on the trigger. No! There is no threat! Stand down! He had loaded his rifle against regulations and against reason. I thought it was a nice touch . . . He was committed to protecting sleeping Reggie. He began to shake. Was that cannon fire in the distance? He began to sweat. Oh, god, I never want to hear another cannonball explode! And rifles are for rabbits, not men . . .

Last train home. What of me? Reggie knew every meaning of home. He was deep and smart, and he tried to enlighten me. I couldn’t fathom much of it. Never had much family or home life, and I’m not deep . . .
He tried to tell me about God, too, but I pretended I wasn’t listening too hard. That must have hurt Reggie bad, but he didn’t show it. He liked talking about things like love, and home, and Jesus, and who he called Father God. I wish I had listened harder . . .

The roar of war increased in his head. Pain and loss. He stood his rifle against the wall and covered his ears with both hands. He felt lost inside his own being. Reflexively he cried out, Oh, God. (Make it stop)
He went to his knees, wrapping his arms around Reggie’s box, laying his tear-streaked cheek on the flag.
It was then that he felt the large, warm hand on his right shoulder. The hand that could not have been there, but was. And he heard the whisper that was not, but was saying everything he needed.

He turned and propped his hurting back against the bier, and he knew. He had been alive, but dead to all feeling. Empty of joy, love, and true life. Reggie was dead, yet fully alive in his memory, and what he remembered now was Reggie saying that Jesus died to make a way home for them . . .
A way home! Jesus Lives, and He is the way home! Jesus is the Last Train Home!

He stood, picked up his rifle, and resumed his watch. The roar was gone. The train’s engine spoke speed, and power, and determination. He looked at the coffin and felt peace. Old friend, I have a ways to go, but I’ll see you when I get there. This is the last train, buddy. We are going home!

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The Basic Christian Library

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is fundamentally what Christianity is all about.

"The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Another converted atheist presents His compelling case for believing in Jesus.

"Left To Tell" by Imaculee Ilibagiza. This profound work is her own extraordinary story of endurance, discovery of the Holy Spirit, grace, healing, and an astonishingly compelling account of the necessity for forgiveness.

Compelling Christian Fiction Reads

"The Circle" 4-book series by Ted Dekker.
A man is the bridge between two very different worlds. Sound familiar? Can he save both? This T.D. work is brilliant in my book.

"This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti. Tales of spiritual warfare from a unique perspective. Stirred a small controversy, but sold millions. What are we Christians afraid of? Hey, it's fiction!

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