It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged – as in really sat down and put together a blog post with my thoughts and words, not just re-posted someone else’s thoughts. Which is probably due to less thoughts floating around in my brain asking for an outlet. Not that I’m an empty-minded zombie (at least not after 10am. And a downed cup of coffee), rather that my life has been flowing lately. It has all been going grandly, without the friction that creates sparks of thoughts.
So here’s the update of my life right now: I’m going to Europe! Soon! My plane ticket is bought and I will be flying into London in early June, which is now less than two months away! The plan is to spend a few days in London, then to fly to Denmark, where I am volunteering on a sustainable farm, then to Germany, where I will spend a few weeks volunteering at a restaurant outside of the Black Forest before meeting up with a friend and my travel companion for a few more months of travel. Excited, nervous, anticipating, scared: I’ve pretty much got the whole gamut of emotions as I wait to embark.
Since I’ve been thinking about this trip since last October/November, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder traveling in general and why I’ve had the itch to travel… Here are just a few of those thoughts.
My middle class American peers and I are given incredible opportunities to travel nowadays. Anywhere in the world is practically a step away for us – unthinkable a mere 150 years ago! We can flip through brochures and websites, and depending on whether we feel like digging wells in South America with a youth group, lounging on a beach in Hawaii, or taking selfies with adorable orphans in Africa, all we have to do is lazily point, click, and board a plane. Crazy. As with many other things in our modern-day life, I feel we have gained convenience yet lost a form of building relationships. My romantic side refuses to heed Ecclesiastes’ advice on “the good old days”, and desires the times when it took several weeks to cross the Atlantic by passenger liners – time to build relationships and get to know your fellow travelers, who you could probably run into again after you reached your destination. I suppose that time period (early 1900s) would be the best in transAtlantic travels – earlier and you head into time consuming and perilous trips on creaky wooden boats eating moldering seatack and hanging garlic around your neck to ward off the latest disease decimating the ship. Zoom forward in time and you arrive at the zippy, 9 hour flights of today that create “jet lag” because we’ve hopped clear to the other side of the world so fast. And we complain when stopovers make our flight up to 30 hours long, ha!
I wonder if history professors ever complain about any sort of conditions nowadays.
I think it is important for every traveler to consider why they are going. Although many of us cannot fully explain it, so we simple label it “the traveling bug”. I tell curious people that the world is so amazingly big and holds such a beautiful variety of cultures and places, it seems a shame for me to only taste a few during my short life here. God made this world large and beautiful for us. I want to see what He’s made!
Last year, I felt intense restlessness. I JUST WANTED TO TRAVEL. I just wanted to go somewhere, see things, otherwise I felt I’d go crazy.
We can travel to escape from something. We can travel to escape to something – or rather our perception of something. We can travel because there is something restless and coiled inside our souls, and we’re not sure what will satisfy it, but perhaps if we just keep moving we’ll find the Settler. An answer? Something that satisfies.
Recently, I have discovered that the restlessness – gradually and without my notice of the process – had been replaced with a contentment and peace. I love where I am at. I love the beauty of this valley, watching it shift through the seasons, and knowing so well this area I was born and raised in. If someone handed me some waders, a high-end camera, and a sleeping bag, I would gladly spend months walking through the local valleys capturing and enjoying all of the beauty they hold.
I love my brothers and my parents, I love my jobs (mostly) and my coworkers. I feel as though I am a part of what God doing, right now, right here, to the people in my arm’s reach.
So why go elsewhere?
Traveling is like hiking. Uphills and downhills – steps that take you to breath-catching beauty and steps that are pure torture, bringing tears to your eyes. But in the end, you come back stronger in every way. You come back with stories to tell, that will give others courage on their own journeys.
“You can always come home.” Home is a hazy idea to some. Is it where our family lives? Our spouse? Where we were born? Where we’ve spent the most time? Where we have our job? Or simply the place we love the most? Some of us feel strongly connected to one place, others consider home wherever their feet are currently standing.
A co-worker and I were recently talking about a man she knows, who moves from job to job all the time. I jokingly called him a “wandering soul” and she replied “Yes, aren’t we all? I know I am; I am searching for something, though I don’t know what it is.” Being at work and in the middle of the lunch rush, I just smiled and lightly said, “Yep, me too!” It only took a few seconds after the words left my mouth for me to realize, they weren’t true.
I am not a wandering soul.
I may travel and see things, my “current residence” may change, but that’s only my physical body. Inside – my soul – I am at peace. I am anchored. There is a line from my heart to God’s, and wherever I go, I am at home and content. When restlessness pervades my being, it is only because like a child, I have pushed myself from the Father’s arms and have looked to myself and the world for the fulfillment of my soul. Everything in this world is tumultuous and changing. Nothing can be fully depended on – except for God. That is why all He asks for is our full commitment to Him – a word which in the original sense means entirely leaning our whole weight on Him, reclining as if in a hammock. Only then can we be unshaken.
I have always known and believed this, but it was strongly reinforced in my soul a month ago. After a 6-week battle with cancer, my pastor’s wife passed away in March. At the memorial service we worshiped God, giving Him our sorrows, our broken hearts, and receiving back peace. I was reminded of the truths: that our Savior God is our Rock, our Anchor that holds, our Hope now and forever. We will not be shaken.
What are you depending on? Where is your anchor?
Where is your home?