“Entering Charles/MGH”

The Red Line T, stretching from Alewife to Ashmont (or Braintree) and back, is the most efficient subway line in the city of Boston. I overheard one man explaining to a visitor from New York City “The Red Line is the only line that is anything like a real subway in Boston” and after being in New York the statement is understandable.

If you get on the T at Alewife, you’ll first hit Davis Square Station and then move on to Porter Square. Harvard, Central and Kendall come soon after, as the train becomes more crowded with standing room only. Passengers keep their eyes locked on people who look like they may be getting off at the next stop, ready to move in to the empty seat like a hawk over its prey.

As is true in most subways, the outside is dark and it is clear we are traveling underground, safely ensconced and unaware of everything that is present in this subterranean space. As we go through Kendall square, the subway emerges above ground for just one station and over the loudspeaker a conductor says the words “Entering Charles/MGH”. It never gets old as we go from gloomy darkness up into the light of the city. The Charles River sparkling with reflected light, the city of Cambridge on one side, the city of Boston on the other. No matter what type of weather, be it fog, rain, snow, bright sunshine, mostly cloudy, or patches of sun, we have still gone from darkness into light. Passengers often forget what they are doing and stare out smudged windows, taking in, for just a few moments, the beauty and light outside.

“Out of darkness and into glorious light” is the phrase that comes to me daily as I travel this line. It’s like being stuck in a long tunnel and seeing light ahead, emerging and sighing with relief at the light around you, visibly relaxing. Or like being in a dark period in our lives, thinking the tunnel of depression or anxiety will never end, only to suddenly emerge into glorious light. Light that dispels all the darkness and blinds you with its beauty and all-encompassing power. Daily, as I enter Charles/MGH, those are the words that are impressed on my mind and those are the words that never grow old.

6 thoughts on ““Entering Charles/MGH”

  1. The Red Line has always been exciting. My grandmother lived near Harvard Square, and whenever we visited, we would ride it on our way to the MFA or to the swan boats or the top of the John Hancock building (the old one). I would try to “surf,” to try to stand solidly without holding on as it bumped and bent and screeched to stops. And all the people were strange, fascinating, and a little scary. It was a path to adventure for a little girl from a quiet town in western Massachusetts.


    1. And like you are saying, coming out into the brightness of the Charles was/is always breathtaking before entering the dark, dirty world underground. It is a picture of the Lord’s beauty in the midst of the darkness.


    2. I love your description, looking back as a little girl and remembering! It is memorable, isn’t it? I often will see kids get on their knees to look out. As I remember you grew up in South Hadley correct? Home to my brother and wife and where we were recently attending the wedding of my niece. I love your last sentence in the second comment!


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