Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On Either Side of the Journey

We start out trips, whether they’re vacations or work related, with expectations and return with memories to process. My recent trip to a Christian Writer’s Seminar was no exception. My journey began standing outside the Atlanta airport, waiting for the hotel shuttle. It was cold, really cold. My hopes of escaping the relentless, frigid weather that has blanketed the Midwest for the past two months were dashed. At 9:00 pm it was 27 degrees and the shuttle was nowhere in site. I met a man named Larry, who’d been waiting quite awhile before I arrived. A native Californian dressed in a suit jacket on his way home from Bermuda, Larry was none too happy with the circumstance. Eventually he commandeered a shuttle from another hotel to take us. After a long cold wait, Larry was our hero.

I tentatively entered the hotel restaurant to order a sandwich to take back to my room. I rarely travel alone, and didn’t feel comfortable eating by myself. Larry, who was already seated with his meal, flagged me over. I reluctantly joined him. He was a nice man. His youngest children were recent college grads, like my oldest daughter. We discovered we were both Catholic, and had educated our children in catholic schools and Jesuit universities. Larry reminded me of my father in law, a successful business man with a deep interest in his catholic faith. It didn’t take long for my discomfort to dissolve.

I enjoyed hearing Larry’s stories. He and his wife have traveled extensively with bishops and priests throughout Rome and the Holy Land. Due to his connections he has had the opportunity to enter into the tomb in which Jesus was laid to rest, to touch the mound where the cross of Calvary stood, to visit with visionaries and enter the room where St. Thomas Aquinas prayed and penned his many works. You don’t meet people with his perspective often; in fact, I may never do so again. I had a million questions, and he was gracious in accommodating me. It was a fascinating conversation. He really encouraged me to travel, study the history of our faith, and to pursue new adventures. And I thought I was doing good to make it to Atlanta.

The conference was another good learning experience, as well as an opportunity to meet people and broaden my horizons. By the time I boarded the airplane two days later at 9:00 pm, I was tired and full of ideas. I sat next to a wonderful woman named Gail. She lives not too far from me and was on her way home. Gail works full time in a law office and has raised two children, mostly as a single mother. She now has teen-aged grandchildren. Like Larry, Gail had a wealth of life experience to share with me. Her faith and values really shone brightly in her humble and kind demeanor. As we laughed about some of the common frustrations we share as mothers and wives, she turned to me and said, “I know you won’t believe me, but one day, you’ll miss that.” Her words contained a truth that permeated, and gave me as much to ponder as the great historical truths Larry had shared.

On either side of the journey, I was presented with a challenge. At the onset, it was to have the courage to seek Christ in the rich history that has been left for me. Likewise, I was challenged as the trip came to an end; to seek Christ in the everyday, in the circumstances God has allowed me to experience. I was reminded of the Lord’s words to Micah:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
         And what does the LORD require of you
         But to do justice, to love kindness,
         And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

I’m grateful for these challenges and for the mentors God provides me. During this season of Lent I’m praying for the discipline to explore what I’ve learned, to in some spiritual sense look into the tomb or touch the foot of the cross.  I’m also praying for the discipline to open my heart to gratitude, especially when my circumstances fail to meet my expectations: to walk humbly with those who bring God to me, along the way.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that you met such good and inspiring people in Atlanta. It's an incredibly fulfilling experience to meet a complete stranger that you can not only genuinely connect with, but whose perspective might actually change your life. I think it's a sign that you are not only doing the right thing by still being an active mother to now grisly teenagers, but that you are stepping out of your "mom" shell and pursuing your own passion and dreams. Who knows where this journey into your writing will take you.

    This was beautifully written, you have this "blog" thing down pat, you're a pro already!

    <3 EmilyKate