Railroad Ties

The American transcontinental railroad, built between 1863-1869, is one of the greatest accomplishments of mankind, and there are many spiritual lessons to take away from the story of its construction. It involved many moving parts. There were land surveyors to map the route across the plains, over the Rocky Mountains and through the Sierra Nevada. There were engineers to set the grade so flat track could be laid, not to mention build bridges and tunnels. Brawn was needed to clear away earth and spike the rails. There were Chinese, Irish, freed slaves, Union and Confederate veterans, and many other typical Americans who supplied the manpower. Then there were investors and financiers, running the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Corporations and ensuring there were enough funds to supply material for building the track and to pay the laborers. There were also lobbyists and politicians to ensure the government supported the endeavor in ways it needed. There were entertainers and saloon-keepers along the track to keep the laborers satisfied after hours, and priests to be sure they were not too satisfied.

The feat was not easy. There were deaths, strikes, fights, and broken promises. But ultimately the people, whether they were from opposing corporations or ethnicities, united for the cause they believed was fundamental to the well-being of the United States. They laid a railroad almost 2,000 miles, connecting Sacramento to Omaha and, effectively, the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. It is amazing what can be accomplished when many parts are united.

St. Paul says we are many parts. There are many people with different gifts who form different components of the Church, all necessary. What the Church "accomplishes" is monumental. We could call it the trans-eternal railroad.

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