Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Spiritual Meaning of Travel

I did the devotional talk at church last night on "The Spiritual Meaning of Travel." When done right, travel is something that feeds the soul and enriches life. As it says in Col 3:17 whatever we do, we are to do in the name of the Lord. We Americans do a lot of travel so we should do it with spiritual intention. Just as Man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was made for Man, so Travel was made for us and is a gift for our spiritual formation.

A blessing that accompanies travel is that our senses are heightened. Sights and scenes are more vivid , tastes and smells are more intense, attention is increased, and memory improved. At home we have our priorities, our concerns, chores, commitments to family, work, church and friends. Our senses are dulled or go unnoticed because of the business at hand. When we leave the routine for a trip, short or long, we leave that behind.

I recounted memories of forty years ago when I was on a mission trip with a Harding U. group in the Netherlands. Gave a food story.

The Bible is one long travelogue, really. The characters travel for a variety of reasons: to deliver messages, engage in commerce, visit family, perform government business, escape danger, perform religious observance, attends feasts, weddings, and go on missions. Gave examples of some of these. But, there is risk in travel. Travel benefits us but there are times when accidents and bad things happen. The Good Samaritan had some bad luck. The Man of God of I Kings 13 too. He believed a lie and was killed. Finally there is the family of David Lipscomb. When he was young, his Dad and Uncle left Tennessee for the North in order to release their slaves. While there, some pestilence came through and killed a third of the group. Yes, there is risk in travel, but the risk brings benefits to others. I brought that out because I'm not a proponent of a health and wealth gospel. But, I do derive comfort from a tweet by Max Lucado "Here is an idea. Assume it's going to work out for the best. Isn't Romans 8:28 still in the Bible?"

Next, before discussing heroes of the Bible and their Transformative Travels I introduced my own list of characteristics of:

The Archetypal Journey
  1. In the Ordinary World
  2. Call to Adventure/Refusal
  3. Crossing the Threshold
  4. Tests/Ordeals/Experiences
  5. Rewards/Promises
  6. The Road Back
  7. Arriving with what is learned and sharing
There are various versions of the above. Joseph Campbell and others have described, argued and enumerated the stages of the heroes journey elsewhere as can be googled.

Examples of Transformative Travel in the Bible

You, dear reader, are probably familiar enough to match the experiences of each of these to the list above. And you are to make all your travels match the above as well. Be the hero of your own jouneys.
  1. Abraham
  2. Moses
  3. Ruth
  4. Israel Wandering in the Wilderness
  5. Israel taken in Captivity and Returning from Exile
  6. The Prodigal Son
  7. Paul to Arabia and Paul on his Missionary Journies
  8. Jesus many travels between and around Galilee and Judea
Travel and Creativity

Recently discovered an article by Jonah Lehrer, the author of "Proust was a Neuroscientist", that discusses travel and creativity. He says "We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity." Check this out by him. I may expand this in a later post as this post is long enough.

Tips for Spiritually Meaningful Travel - taken from Joseph Dispenza's writings
  • Take gifts
  • Close the door - leave the past behind
  • Name the trip - Recount/review what you learned/accomplished
  • Tell the story of your trip - make it a journey - relate your experiences
  • Give thought to a memento - sometimes the finding of it, the mindful selection of it, bringing it back adds to and deepens the experience
  • Reflect and celebrate it

May all your trips be journeys - opportunities for spiritual formation and growth.


Tim Archer said...

I've found that travel, particularly international travel, gives me a greater awareness of what it means to be a stranger and alien in this world. Sometimes I get too comfortable, feeling too at home in this world. Travel reminds me that I'm always a foreigner, no matter where I am.

Grace and peace,
Tim Archer

Steve said...

Excellent point Tim. Thanks!

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