There was once a big engine that could, so she thought.
Until, one day, she decided she definitely could not.
Her eyes traveled along the track up the great, big hill.
The daunting task engulfed her; steam puffs went still.
She grit her teeth and tried to gather from inside,
But the biggest problem was that her fire had died.
All alone on her track and without support to be found,
Her momentum slowed, then her wheels made no sound.
They stopped rolling forward; they went completely dead on the track.
All the work and the fight had worn her thin; she felt her morale slack.
An incredible exhaustion seized upon her tired frame fast
Until she started rolling backward, her forward-part last.
Anxious panic set in. What should I do? Where should even I start?
The bend was nearing, so she gripped the track with all her heart.
She caught herself in time before hitting the deadly, sharp turn;
But, man, did that friction between wheel and rail begin to burn.
She held still and began to regain her steely, metal composure,
When something caught her eye down below the steep shoulder.
Up the steep climb a small engine came huffing,
Wheels slowly turning and steam clouds puffing.
The small engine stopped to take a quick needed breather,
And the bigger engine turned so she could clearly see her.
Then their eyes met and locked together in knowing;
The smaller was following where the bigger was going.
“You shouldn’t proceed…” the big one said. “This path is quite frightful.”
The smaller smiled and replied, “But I hear the view is quite delightful.”
“Plus,” the small train started then stopped and then continued to speak,
“I never knew an engine built like us could even consider going to the peak;
Then I watched you start climbing higher and higher!”
Silence fell; the big engine felt something stir inside her.
The little one to the big spoke again, words fast embolding;
The big one leaned in toward the little she was beholding.
“And it’s not just me who has been inspired by your acts…”
Just then more chugging was heard below on the tracks.
More engines were weaving and wending up the treacherous mountainside.
She watched these little trains climb, inspired by how they worked and tried.
“I’ve been at this all wrong….” The thought began to grow in her mind.
“I’ve been looking for help from the side and ahead and not from behind.”
Her gaze returned to the tracks she was desperately clinging upon,
“Maybe…” she thought to herself. “Maybe for them I can climb on?
Even if it’s only an inch or two farther that I can offer,
It’ll be one less inch or two they will have to fight for.
She closed her eyes and gathered up her remaining bits of strength.
“For them…” She grit her teeth, bore down, and powered a length.
“For her…” and she went forward…covering more distance!
What had begun to stir was a full-fledged fire in an instance!
And on the train chugged and huffed,
Engine strong and steam clouds puffed.
There once was a big engine that gave into thinking that she could not;
Until one day a smaller engine reminded her she could, so she fought.
2 thoughts on “The Big Engine Who Thought She Could Not”
Lauren, Thank you, I love your poem. Great thoughts about real human nature and Christian community. We are blessed at the Advent here in Birmingham, with clergy who promote and encourage this in our our membership regularly and in programs to do just this very needful encouragement . Thank you for your faithfulness in ministry!!! Libby Spain
Elizabeth F.Spain libby @btai.com
Thank you so much. And the emphasis is on not only looking ahead for encouragement (like only from mentors) but allowing those you (may be mentoring or encouraging) to encourage you. I think we get caught up in the hierarchy, that the younger can’t encourage us…but they totally can. I have the benefit as female clergy to see the look in the eyes of the young women whom I serve…and regularly I see that my presence makes a difference. Someone like them is doing this thing that they didn’t think was possible. from the ages of 4 to 18 I’ve seen the impact. These young women encourage me ❤