Tram lines

A young woman greets her male friend with an apologetic embrace for not returning his calls, having only realised that her mobile was on silent while she parked her car on the kerbside cobblestone.

The pair are joined by a rough engine churn ascending up the hillside as food on the back of a bicycle flies down in the opposite direction. The lorry disappears behind the ‘ding ding’ of a suburban tram overtaking the cyclist hurrying to ensure his customer’ late dinner remains hot.

The barmaid gently lays down a glass of cherry red while the mid-week book club shares their unevenly sliced pizzas. Soothing country-pop reigns atop parallel shelves of exposition and fiction illuminated by the warmth of rustic bulbs. The various tables have converged into a mahogany of converging life stories, while a curious young lad turns peers into the compendium of happenings.

Quarter past eight and nearly nine hundred kilometres from where lunch was served, here I am seated beside a wrapped hardcover of ‘Who discovered America?’ by the front of a book bar no further than a stone’s throw from the heart of Melbourne. Looking over my shoulder, a surprisingly non-serif chalk wall inscription breaks through the moment of writers’ block.

Take that story home

How often we find ourselves seeking to escape every day but only to be captured by someone else’s every day. If our lives were a wheel rolling along the lanes and tracks, taking in the bumps of the road and wearing the abrasions of sudden braking, what would our garage logbook think of us?

As we journey, we look to the front even if it is not something necessarily we are looking forward to. Sometimes we take a backwards glance to see the history of where we have come from or seek to answer a question from the past. And we let our surroundings act both as the natural environment that we grapple with and also a state of nurturing that shapes us.

But how often do we look up? In the rumpus and melancholy of the present state, contending with what’s before us presents itself as no less than an almighty contest. Our world around us might not invite us to take a seat and read a book but with our daily strides through the marketplace of worldly ideas, let us rely on the spoken Word of the most imperative life story this world will ever know.

The growing cost of fuel for vehicles may be an expense that not all can easily afford but when we are powered by the priceless Word that sustains our journey, we can be assured that the tales we encounter in every day become pale compared to the story of God’s love for us and desire for us to return home to Him.

Set your mind to things above

The most efficient trams around the world rely on the connection to their power source through a pantograph atop each carriage. Beneath each carriage lies are a network of guidance for the vehicle and the path of many lives’ journeys every day.

When we are plugged into the story of God’s big picture from creation to an eternal revelation here in the now but not yet, we can be powered by the Above. A tram that fails to raise its pantograph is more likely to stall and drain its reserve battery.

Our life journeys are much alike the tram lines crisscrossing their way through the heart of the city carrying thousands on their everyday stories. We do not live on this earth in a vacuum but rather encounter the faces of countless stories of which the vast majority we may never get to know. But blessed are we that the One above knows and holds the future for each rider, driver or even unwitting passenger.

Some may prefer the pleasures and freedoms self-driving over sharing the road on-board the confines of a public carriage on a set route. Tramlines co-exist among the everyday business of cars, trucks and everything in between. Stepping aboard a tram is, in turn, being on the road but not of the road. Trams in using the roadway are being powered from a different source, one that is from above and guided on a guaranteed trajectory.

Not to forsake the environmental benefits to public transport in reducing the negative footprint on the world, trams provide the opportunity for those heading in the same direction to commute together. Sharing the journey with fellow commuters powered from above cuts through the traffic congestion of post-Christendom stories that are ultimately steered by one’s fallen self.

Free tram zone

One of Melbourne’s tourist drawcards includes free travel zone on trams in the city. Only commuters that continue further on the journey make payment for their ride. Everyone is welcome to hop on board a free tram in Melbourne no matter where your home address is. No matter if you are from Sydney or a car driver, the tram awaits you freely.

How good is it that anyone is welcome to receive the Good News of Jesus Christ. There is no charge to hopping on board and if one chooses to continue the journey in respect of the carriage that they have been blessed with, one can choose to support such a network of fellowship opportunities.

(If you stay on-board the tram after the free zone, you can pay the fare for the remaining journey knowing that ticket revenue goes back into running the trams and subsidising the free zone)

Trams carry many lives’ journeys from home to school to work and everything in between. No matter what happens around us in the non-stop hustle and bustle of life, let us be powered by the One above.

Let us not rely on driving our own way without guidance through tracks laid out for us in the Word or seeking to pen the next chapter of our own story by driving our own way at the cost of forsaking goodness that awaits those who yearn for a return to His creation. And may we be having a calling to invest in the free journey of others hopping on board in the free tram zone.

This article was first published in Christian Today Australia on Tuesday 10 March 2020