Having just returned from a momentous trip, I am thinking about the impact travel can have on our lives. Leaving home whether for a week or a month can open space in our hearts, minds and souls, allowing the Spirit to move in ways unexpected. Seeing new places and meeting new people can change our perspective on the world. And sometimes getting out of town can be just plain fun!
Tell us five places you have been or trips you have taken that have been important to you. Feel free to disguise them if needed to protect your anonymity. The point is not so much the place as the effect.
1. India–my dad had the opportunity to be part of a Justice Department lecture series in India when I was 16. The beauty of the Taj Mahal and the hotels in which we stayed contrasted sharply with the poverty of people on the streets in New Delhi and Bombay and gathered at the Red Temple. As a sheltered child of the First World, I had not known and did not understand the way some people lived. From that time forward I stopped taking my privileged existence for granted.
2. The Berkshires–my mother’s best childhood friend has a house in Western Massachusetts, and we made many visits there when I was growing up. There are good memories of swimming in the pond and picking blueberries off the bushes to eat right there. (And a few of secretively taking the yucky walnuts out of the brownies and hiding them on the ledge of the trestle table in the kitchen.) But most important for my future were the visits to the Congregational Church, where they let me ring the bell and planted a seed that bloomed many years later when I moved to New England and joined a Congregational (UCC) Church.
3. Bawlmer–I went to a weekend gathering there in the fall of 1999, the year I had taken off from seminary thinking I might not ever return. I was only away from home for one night, but that night, in a quiet hotel room with no cats or children to wake me, I had a dream that made it clear I needed to get back to seminary. I resisted the dream’s meaning for a week or so, wished I hadn’t remembered it, tried to forget it, but it stayed with me. I returned to school the following semester and went straight through to graduation.
4. The Southwest–Pure Luck wanted me to see some of his favorite places in the world so we flew out west in the summer of 2001. We weren’t sure what the future held for us at that time, so it was a week of great exterior beauty and significant interior discomfort for both of us. I think I learned how to live through a difficult stretch without bolting, mostly because I didn’t have much choice. It was a good thing to learn.
5. The Gulf Coast–Deep bonds were formed. Love for a new place was born. Understanding of storm and devastation as reality, not metaphor, grew. Caring and connections across barriers of theology and race were witnessed. Space to contemplate my call was granted. All still unfolding…