In the summer I reread a childhood classic; The Railway Children by E.Nesbit. I have become somewhat of a Railway Child myself in the last 2 months as I have been travelling by train all over the place attending meetings and visiting people and projects. Sometimes I feel like a train, rushing through beautiful countryside.

I've had the joy of meeting some truly lovely people, and the sadness of not being able to spend much time with most of them.

When I first thought of this train analogy it was in a fairly negative way. As I reflected on the whirlwind of the last 2 months of my life, I questioned the lasting influence that a train has on its surroundings. Must be almost nothing. The birds resettle.

As I remember this book, I'm reconsidering the influence of trains.

In The Railway Children, the trains have a huge influence. The children in the book love the trains. As they watch the train steam past they imagine where it's going and ask it to take their love to their father, who is far away and whom they miss terribly. The trains connect them to the rest of the world. They remind them that there is light at the end of their tunnel. That their father is somewhere. The train can't hold their hand when they cry, or play games with them or make them cookies, but the small thing it can do is very significant to them.

At Youth Assembly 2011 when I was a Youth President candidate, I spoke again and again to the children and young people about our potential to be light - the light of the world. Our capacity for influence is incomprehensible, in a world where people full of emotion bump into each other again and again day after day. Our small things have big effects. Careless words, or lives lived with intention. We are like trains going in and out of people's lives - some trains are slower and some are quicker, but all come and go, and all have influence.

We all have a small part to play in a very big countryside.
Our small part will have influence.

I think my part at this time is to notice people, to listen to them, and to hopefully encourage them.

What is your part?
What is your countryside?
What is your influence?

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made the plant grow"
1 Corinthians 3.6
"You can do no great things, only small things with great love"
Mother Teresa (debatably)
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden ... let your light shine before others"
Matthew 5.14+16

PS the pictures show you a glimpse of my October - a meeting at the houses of parliament - an OPP weekend, the highlight of which was a very fun pillow fight - a banner of encouragement made by Methodist Independent Schools students at a World AIMS weekend for an MRDF project in Nepal - some student at the World AIMS weekend in a cave! Some small but significant moments, I hope.

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