Saturday, March 21, 2015

So I'll Remember

Today, I got to play with a doll house. I played with a doll house with the sweetest little old lady name Sarah. We cleaned it and then we put all the pieces back into the house. I handed her pieces of furniture and then together we would decide where they should be placed and Mrs Sarah would place them. Should the clock go on the mantle or is it too big? What do you think of putting the sewing machine in the baby's room? Oh, look how cute that vase is! Then we would giggle together and fold our hands under our chins and smile. When we were done, we plugged it in and I took pictures.

While the rest of the Preservation Society slaved away with Murphys Oil Soap and Windex, Mrs Sarah and I relived a bit of our childhoods together and it was the most fun I've had in a long time. Just thought I'd write it down so that I'll never forget it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Why Do You Travel So Much?

I get asked why I travel so much. I've even overheard someone say something disparaging about my travel frequency. It's got me to thinking today and remembering something I wrote on a train in England.

I would LOVE to address the overheard conversation, but I cannot think of a way to do that without defending myself and bringing up deep wounds from the past. That would accomplish nothing edifying and would only stir things up. So we will ignore it.

So the question, or questions, before us today are why do I love to travel so much? I think the better question is why do I travel at all? To where do I travel?

Not to state the obvious, but traveling enables me to see a place. That may sound redundant, but I think it's an important point. Seeing a place gives an experience of that place, and experience causes a relationship to be formed. It is a relationship between the intellect and the heart. Suddenly, something imagined in the intellect, perceived in the mind through accounts and photographs is reconfigured, reoriented into a 'real' place with life and movement. It is much easier to remember a real place. Your heart can hear it, smell it, watch it. Travel for the sake of travel is much like doing anything for the sake of itself, it is empty. But travelling to make something more real, to connect it to your heart, is a different matter entirely.

So the next question is, to where do I travel?

Anywhere can be a destination really. It could be a place from a childhood picture book or the home of distant relatives. It could be the subject of a song or poem. Or... it could be the home of a friend.

I have friends who are ministers of the Gospel in other countries and I've learned something from watching them. One, it is hard. Two, they are often forgotten.

I think we would all assume that their jobs wouldn't be easy. Surely, we think, these missionaries knew this going into it. They're smart people after all. They're prepared. Right? Well, let me ask. Are you always prepared for hard things? Maybe we are, but does that somehow make it magically not hard anymore? Can we then skip through the death of a loved one just because we knew it would be hard? It's an irrational and selfish way of thinking.

Now if they are experiencing hardship, loneliness, discouragement or tiredness, how can I help? Sometimes, it is writing a prayer on a card and mailing it. Sometimes, sending a package. Sometimes... I travel. I can travel to bring them peanut butter or books. I can walk their familiar paths. I can go to their place and in that place, offer encouragement. When I do that, problem two disappears. They are no longer forgotten.

The beautiful thing for me, the traveler, is that in the process, I meet their friends and make them my own. In this way, the kingdom of God unfolds before me and I see another thread of the great tapestry that God has woven. But be warned, making new friends, especially brothers and sister in Christ, is one of the most beautiful, edifying and heart-rending things one can do in this life. Heart-rending because it necessarily means saying good-by, sometimes until eternity.

Sometimes I think this traveling can bring sadness. Sadness at the brokenness in this world. Sadness at having to say goodbye again. Sadness at seeing struggle and not being able to do anything about it. But that sadness can and should be lifted up by hope, for God is not done. God has not forgotten his ministers or abandoned them in the harvest field.

I travel, not just for myself; I travel for my children and future grandchildren. The first trip had the effect of God exploding in size in my own mind. The second trip changed everything. Maggie felt the call to missions. Ty felt the call to become a pilot. We all felt the renewed call to church planting. Massive things happened because of that trip.

I have been to the very southern tip of Ireland, where the wind is wild and the sea is gray. I have stood at the foot of the Eiffel Tower at night when it was glittering with light. I have trudged through the mist and fog of the Lake District. I've stood outside Westminster Cathedral and listened to Big Ben chime noon. I have hiked in Yorkshire and had my breath stolen by its beauty. I have walked reverently through the shell of a cathedral in Coventry and whispered to its ghosts. And I have met Emma, Liberty, Dan and Lorna. I have laughed with Laura and picked up kids from school with Dana and bought groceries with Ginger. I have lived and been real and I will never regret it.

So to ask me why I travel is to ask me why I write or make friends. It is a question I can try to answer but it is too deep, too big, to ever truly be able to explain. You might as well ask me to catch the wind. It's too mysterious for that.

If you ever get the chance to travel, I encourage you to take it. Take it with both hands and maybe even give it a hug. Go to that new place with an open heart, expecting to meet new family and possibly have your heart broken. Go. Love. Hope. See God in a brand new light.