I can hear a train. In five minutes it will be midnight, and something about the night air carries the horn of the train across town and into the silence of the room. It reminds me of silent nights in Michigan when the girls were in bed and I was writing at my desk. It carries me back to my childhood, at Uncle Dan’s and the trains that crossed the field beyond his house. We used to run out to count the cars.
There is something haunting about the cry of a train echoing through the night – and at the same time, something familiar, comforting. It is like a loon on the lake at dusk, speaking of far away places yet also of home. It is the sound of everyday life like church bells in the evening – or those that summon us to gather on Sunday morning. It is like a motorcade carrying the grieving to a cemetery before which we pause and say a silent prayer. It is like the cows gathered into the barn for milking, the wheat ready for harvest, the silence of a new-fallen snow. It is the aroma of soup in winter, the crackle of a fireplace. It is the warmth of a heater grate on a cold morning, the cold air of a fall morning, the brilliant reds and golds of an autumn evening.
It is the warmth of a tender marriage, the solace of a child sleeping in your arms. It is the hope of all that is good and enduring.
It is a sound that lulls us to sleep, a steady heartbeat, a warmth near us, a sense that we are not alone.
It is a lullaby.
It is a gentle kiss of God.