I have done some travelling in my life. I have managed to set my foot in six continents (sorry Antarctica you are not on my to do list). I always find that when one travels, one gains appreciation for what one has. Life was pretty darned good in Canada and its quite fine in Australia. Most places I have been, I could truly see myself going back there to visit. A few places, I would not care to return to but I can say that I have visited there. I always learn something when I travel. Oh sure there are the facts one gathers when one visits various museums or when one takes a bus tour of the city. But I think more importantly when we travel, we learn more about ourselves. We learn what our comfort zones are. I am willing to try this. I like this. I don't like this at all. I take this for granted at home. I am not going to eat this. Also when we travel we learn what the rest of the world thinks of us- are Canadians really as meek and willing to apologize as we think we are? Are Australians really as gregarious as we think we are?
Travel is exciting. I know months before I go, I love to get a Lonely Planet travel guide for where I am visiting and read as much as possible. Oh sure the vast majority of the places that I read about in the guide I won't see, but for the places I will see, I will be girded with some background. Travel is about dreams- the places you'll see. Travel means the opportunity to see something different and to discover something new.
There is always a negative side to travel as well. Of course there is the hassle of suitcases, and possibly long tedious hours to be spent aboard aircraft, trains, highways. There is always the threat that once we get to our dream destination, it won't live up to expectations. We might have to give up the comforts of home as we traverse the planet. And maybe, and this is the most scary yet, maybe when we travel we will be forever changed. Maybe once I see the decadence of a wealthy city or the degrading poverty of another, I won't see my corner of the world the same when I get home.
I think the best part of travel though is that when we come home we have memories. Memories of special times of celebration. Memories that shocked us. Memories that delight us. Hopefully after a vacation, we are rested, recharged, re-invigorated, re-energised. The end of a vacation or a business trip I think should always be a mixed thing- being glad you went, being glad for the experience, being happy you are home, being happy that it is all behind you.
Two times a year, we talk about travelling in church. The first is during the season of Advent when we imagine approaching the stable for the first time to see God incarnate in the world. The second time of year is Lent, when we imagine Jesus' final walk to Jerusalem and the cross. May this be a time of excitement for us. May we dream about the significance of this event. The journey will be hard as we spend time in figurative airports and train stations waiting. The journey will be hard as we realize we won't be quite the same afterwards. And hopefully the experience of this Lent will leave us with memories of new experiences, pushes to the edge of our comfort zones, and happy to be home. Blessings.