Lives on both sides of my family have been influenced a lot by the railroad. Specifically, Santa Fe Railroad. Three uncles worked and retired from Santa Fe. My Mom was a Harvey Girl and the Harvey Houses were strategically located along the line. Rail passenger service is not nearly as popular as it once was. Better highways, better cars and jetliners have all played a role in the railroad’s being more strictly a freight industry.
Things have changed. While one can be a little saddened by the results, change isn’t all bad. At RiverStone Church we know this. But sometimes we can just get stuck in what has been. The railroad itself illustrates this point. The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between rails) is four feet, eight and one-half inches. Why such an odd number? Why not an even four feet? Well, because that’s the way they built them in England, and American railroads were built by British immigrants.
Why did the English adopt that particular gauge? Because the people who built the pre-railroad tramways used that gauge. They used that gauge because they used the same standards and tools they had used for building wagons. Why were the wagons built so their wheels were four feet, eight and one-half inches apart? Because any other size would not match the old wheel ruts on their roads.
So, who built those rutted roads? The first long-distance roadways in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions of military. The roads have been in use ever since. The ruts were made by Roman war chariots. Four feet, eight and one-half inches was the width a chariot needed to be able to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. Which just goes to show you that when you get stuck in a rut, you could use a change of scenery!
Maybe “that’s the way it’s always been” isn’t the greatest excuse some people believe it to be. At RiverStone Church we’re doing some in-depth research to build new ways of “doing church” because, well, things have changed. We want to serve people of today. It’s a big challenge, but we have a big God.
How’s your scenery?