May 22, 2011
Travel brings change. In coming and going, and in the adventure of being neither here nor there but somewhere in the in-betweens, change occurs. However, the change that lasts comes both on the journey and when we arrive home again.
I was surprised at how eager I was to reach home (and privately amused at myself). During the time traveling I had enjoyed companionship and friendship at a rich, consistent level. The enormous forests and the immensity of the ocean made a visual gallery of memories that will last a long lifetime. Nevertheless, in a paradoxical way that is difficult to express, it was in coming home that I began to understand where I had been.
The car was emptied at last. I left the luggage in an untidy heap in the hall, and sat down in the quiet of my small house. Miss Annie curled up on my lap, purring her welcome home. And there, sitting in my favorite chair, unbidden I suddenly re-visited in my mind a breath-stopping curve in the road we had driven earlier in the week. I could see and hear the wild waves pounding against the sheer cliffs below us, their spray white against the black rocks. I could sense the power of the water, the unmoving resistance of the massive black walls of rock that bounded the shore line, and the incredible frailty of my human self in the context of that world of rock and wind and water and grim sky. I had some sense of that even at the time we initially rounded that curve. I thought then, “This changes my sense of both the frailty and value of human life.”
But I knew it again in a different lasting sense when I knew it in my chair at home with Miss Annie on my lap. The enormity of the dimensions of that world and its impersonal unintentional power were at some level unknowable until I re-knew them in the context of home.
Whether in therapy or in spiritual formation, change comes on the journey, but it is in those times of quiet harbor that we integrate and store the journey’s change within the person we are becoming. In our action addicted world it is easy to miss the importance of stillness and retracing the road where we have been.
An old Zen-like cliché reads something like this: Don’t just do something. Stand there.
Coming off two weeks of wonderful travel, tonight I would say: Don’t just travel. Come home and rest. Then you can know where you have been.
I am thinking with you about the challenge of understanding and keeping change I have experienced.
See you next week.