We are away from one home and at another. We have family members and friends far away from us, some in places of danger, and it makes us anxious. What’s all this traveling about?
What happens when we travel? We spend a lot of time on the road. We get tired. We feel miserable in unfamiliar beds and locations. We can’t wait to get where we’re going. We meet new people or get reacquainted with old friends. We learn how to manage with less than we usually have. We eat too well and too poorly. We try to get some unusual things accomplished and often feel the frustration of too little time and too many expectations. We experience and understand things up close that we see only from a distance at home. We see ourselves differently, feeling strange feelings of discomfort and exhilaration. Why would anyone do such things to themselves when they could be relaxing at home?
We say “life is a journey” so often it becomes trite. Sometimes our lives are stuck, and getting away becomes a way to obtain that perspective that will move us beyond the sticking points. Sometimes we return with a fresh outlook. Sometimes we never quite go back to where we were. Sometimes we move in an illusion of leaving that brings us right back to where we started because we carry so much baggage with us, although I suspect that getting back to a starting point is harder to do than it appears. Travelers can try to give the impression that nothing has changed and then report years later how much did.
Of all the trips the one with the most potential for transformation is the inner journey. How can any of our trips reflect so much change in belief and equipment for service to others as the stories of our spiritual forebears?
Family travels and travails have brought us here, and the mappings of our heritage show that our trips are often short and easy compared to those earlier ones. They remind us that we are not rooted to one place and we must keep moving and growing or we will shrivel and die. Our sojourn may be short or long but we remain sojourners wherever we are.
When we sing, “We are people on a journey,” it is not just words. Gathering around a praying table we find a resting place along the way and a joyful foretaste of homecoming.