Engine #102

This is a very different sort of post for me. But perhaps it isn’t.  It is a part of my story. It’s about feeling something. Something that moved me and brought me to an understanding…about life…and about me.

It happened on a Monday. Around 10:30 am. Engine #102 and her 5 passenger cars were traveling south when she hit a rock slide that had landed on the tracks. It happened just outside of Northfield. The town I live in.  I heard about it while I was at work.

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Photo courtesy of WCAX.com

The rock slide had happened during the night sometime. And it was on a sharp curve on a remote section of the track. It truly came out of nowhere.  And there was no avoiding it.  Engine #102 hit the rock slide head on. She derailed.  

Photos courtesy of Ken Hepburn

Down the deep ravine she fell.  She detached from the rest of the cars.  She came to a rest on her side near a river.

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Photo courtesy of WCAX.com

Emergency crews rushed to get there. But it was difficult. This section of track was not easy to get to.  It took some time.  

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Photo courtesy of WCAX.com

Amazingly, no one was seriously injured.  The conductor suffered a few broken ribs.  The rest of the crew and the 95 passengers on board were unharmed.  A miracle.  

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Photo courtesy of Brian Bell and WCAX.com

The news crews descended upon our small town.  The people who live here sprang to action, providing water and food and shelter.  The emergency crews worked tirelessly for days upon end.

Photos courtesy of Ken Hepburn

Engine #102 lay in the ravine, on her side for over a week. They had to build roads to get her out. They had to bring in special equipment.  They also had to clear the tracks and get the trains back on schedule.

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Photo courtesy of one of the machine operators. I didn’t get his name…

It was a monumental effort.  It was impressive. This effort to save engine #102 and bring her out.

It was because, although her shell was battered, her engine was still intact.  It was worth it to bring her out.  She still had a lot of life left in her.

And then, on a Saturday afternoon, they got her out.  6 days after she had fallen into the ravine.  A huge transport vehicle brought her out of the woods, down a dirt road and into town. 100 tons of metal moving at a speed of 2 miles per hour. It took 2 hours to go the 4 miles into town.

http://www.wptz.com/news/northfield-roads-to-close-while-amtrak-locomotive-removed/35766442

I missed it.  I had plans and couldn’t stay to watch.  I hoped that it would still be happening when I returned from dinner, so I could see her.

But when I got back to town, all was quiet. There was no evidence that anything of that proportion had happened.  And I was curious.  I wanted to know where she was.  Was it possible that they had loaded her onto a flatbed and sent her down the tracks to be repaired already?  How could that be?  I wondered and thought and then investigated.

I drove to the nearest train station in the next town over.  She wasn’t there. But the 5 passenger cars were.  I marveled at the damage and how incredible it was that no one was hurt badly.  And I felt incredibly grateful.  I also felt something else.  An awe at not only the integrity of these train cars, but at the people who coordinated this immense operation. And most of all a deep sense of gratitude.  The mangled cars did their job. They kept their passengers safe.

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Photo courtesy of WCAX.com

But where was Engine #102? When I got home, I scoured the internet.  I looked at the news footage.  And then I saw it.  I saw her coming into town and turning down Wall St.  And I knew. I knew where she was.  She hadn’t left town yet.  She was in the old train yard just a few blocks from where I live.

So I went down there.  It was late.  And as I pulled into the freight yard I could see the bright spotlights and I could see Engine #102.  And I could see the Amtrak police watching over her.  So I didn’t stay.

The next morning, I heard strange noises outside.  The sounds of engines and heavy equipment.  I knew what was happening.  I rushed down to the freight yard.

They were getting her ready I found out.  They were going to load her onto a flatbed car pulled by a large cargo locomotive and bring her to Indiana, where she would be fixed and brought back to her original state.  I stayed and watched this amazing feat of engineering. 100 tons of metal lifted up and onto a flatbed.  It took a few hours.  I stayed and watched it all.  And then…once she was secure…they took off. Heading to the next town over.  They needed to secure her more carefully for the long journey to Indiana.

I stopped by the train station today.  I knew she was still there.  I wanted to see her one last time. I wanted to say goodbye.  I wanted to see the end of this story.

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As I got into my car and drove away, I felt tears on my face.  Why, I wondered, had this train captured my heart so deeply?  Why did I feel something for this hunk of metal? It made no sense to me.

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Yet it did make sense.  Engine #102 symbolized strength.  She reminded me that things happen.  Bad things. That we fall down.  We get hurt.  And that we get wounded and broken sometimes.

And with a little help we get back up. Back on track. Our broken parts get mended. We survive and learn to live again.

Engine #102 is part of my story.  And I will never forget her.

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Church

I am blessed to live where I do. All around me are some of the most beautiful and unique natural places. Places that I find wonder and joy. Places that bring me peace. Places that lift my spirit up.

Places…that I call Church.

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I try to go to Church on a regular basis. It has become a huge part of my life and who I am. And so, you can frequently find me at Church.

It is in Church where all things seem possible. Where the stresses from every day life melt away. Where quiet contemplation and reflection remind me of what is most important in my life and where gratitude replaces fear.

It is here at Church where I feel closest to my heart and to my soul.

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It is here where I feel free. It is here where I find grace.

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And it is here where I lose and find myself.

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Over and over and over again…at Church.

There’s Something in the Air

Or perhaps it is something inside of me. I feel myself expanding and growing, opening and blossoming.

Last summer I journeyed to the edge. I explored new territory and dark places within me. It was a time of healing.

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This summer I am still journeying. I am still exploring…

but it is with new eyes and a grateful heart

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I have discovered so much that I never thought possible. The world around me is more vivid, more beautiful, more alive. And me…I feel more alive than I ever have felt before.

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I am not sure where or when or why this shift and transformation happened…perhaps it is something in the air.

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Or perhaps it is me.

The true me, finding her way out into the light.

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Kissing the Earth

The world around me is growing, blooming, flourishing. I am in awe of her beauty and her unfolding.

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I love all seasons but spring…the season of rebirth…holds me in her spell. Enchanting, captivating, and radiant.

I immerse myself in her lushness and extravagance.

I stare in wonder at the abundance of colors and inhale the heavenly scents.

I feel gentle breezes and nourishing rains. The earth is truly coming back to life.

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There is a stirring inside my soul. A desire, a passion, a reverence for what I am seeing and experiencing around me and within me. I feel myself blossoming and expanding. My heart joyous and content.

It’s as though I am kissing the earth. Savoring these tender and sweet moments. And as I journey through this season…

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I feel the earth kissing me back.

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My Secret Garden

Someone recently told me that I have a secret garden inside of me. And when I heard this…I knew it to be true.

It is deep in my heart. Deep inside where my spirit lives. Deep inside where it has laid dormant for a very long time.

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I think I had forgotten it was there. Buried under the overgrown weeds and tangled branches. The debris and wreckage that comes from loss and heartache. Piled so thick so that no sunlight could reach it.

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Slowly though, I have pulled away the piles and the layers to uncover what has been asleep and buried. The garden of my heart.

And in this uncovering, a wondrous and amazing thing has happened. The garden has come back to life. In fact it’s bursting with buds and blooms. It’s big and bright and vibrant. It’s rich and earthy and warm. It’s full of hope and joy…

And most of all…love

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As a child, I was enchanted by the story ” The Secret Garden”. Today, as a grown woman, I am discovering my very own secret garden. And I don’t want to keep it a secret. I want to share it with the world.

Because in the words of Francis Hodgson Burnett, author of “The Secret Garden”

It blooms and blooms and every morning new miracles are revealed.

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So I am sharing this garden I’ve found with others. Please come visit it anytime:

http://www.facebook.com/thegardenofrecovery

What better time than spring, the season of rebirth, to discover your own secret garden.

Wild Hearts

There was a time when I searched for hearts. Every place I explored, every mountain I climbed, every path I traveled. But I never found any. I believed they were not for me to find. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to see them, so I stopped looking.

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And then suddenly they were everywhere I looked.  These hearts from nature. Hearts that you find while not looking for them. Hearts that remind you that life is beautiful and wondrous and amazing.

I have come to see these hearts as symbols. Letting me know that the path I am on, is the right path. The right path for me and my heart.

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After a long period of healing, mending, and then opening and expanding. My heart is once again whole. And once again…wild.

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