I’ve always loved our Metro system. The noble simplicity of its vaulted stations makes every rider a citizen-king. The system is clean (compared to many)… and what heart doesn’t swell with civic unity and pride as we all agree that one should, “Stand on the right!” Metro is certainly an icon of DC life, a staple of our regional culture. It’s also a fascinating petri dish of human experience.
When I commuted on Metro I was a wide-eyed college student, but there were other types of eyes too; muted in their excitement, downcast in fatigue, sometimes downright numb. I still see them. For some it’s a momentary thing, a brief “turning off” before rousing the self and stiffening the sinews for another round of life. But for others I get the sense that those muted eyes are the norm of life. Obviously I can’t speak for everyone that I see, but sometimes the words of Cardinal Wiseman come to mind,
“Who was ever satisfied that his attempt to please the world have been ever fully repaid?” (homily, “On love of the world” – I Jn 2:15)
All of us run in the rat-race of urban life. Too many run that race outside of a truly liberating human context: from one fad to the next, from one job to the next hoping against disappointed hope that eventually life will give way and reward us. If eyes on the metro are any indication, it won’t.
Christianity has always proposed a different way, a sacrificial context for our race in which all the smallest and greatest sufferings we endure can be consciously offered to God to win graces for ourselves and our world. The loving God, not this fickle world, becomes the source of or reward. As Viktor Frankl asserted: a man can survive any “how” if he has a “why.” When that “why” is our role in a divine schema of sacrifice and love, it ennobles us… lifts our spirits and maybe even our eyes when we’re riding the rails to work.
For further reading on living daily sacrifice see the works of: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Josemaria Escriva, and St. John Paul II, all available at the Catholic Information Center (K St, NW between 15 and 16th St. – Metro: Farragut North)