Updated: Dec 1, 2020
Trips are good. The one I am currently on, for example, provides nothing unique in terms of the company, the destination, or even the length of time away, but oddly it is still special because of what a trip represents.
Just think about the words we have used in the past to describe such elongated moments. Journey, sojourn, retreat, break; I could go on, but all of these words and other such words point to the fact that a trip is always meant to be transitory , something never to be held on to. Of course, there is good reason for that.
The moment a trip becomes the norm, the everyday, or permanent it can no longer do what it is meant to do. It can no longer refresh the mind and body. It can no longer challenge our perspectives. It can no longer add to what we are. And the more we try to remain there, to live on permanent vacation, we do not grow in our rest as common wisdom tells us, but we stagnate.
Consider the young person who upon finishing school goes off to ‘find himself.’ The parents’ concern is a legitimate one. With worry in their hearts they might ask, ‘but what about your life?’ Or consider the perpetual vacationer, ending one get away only to begin the next in record time. We, their friends, might legitimately ask, ‘but when are you going to tend to the things at home?’
As you may have guessed, this is no less a problem in the spiritual life, for there are some among us who live from one retreat to the next, one conference to the next, and so on. But remember, through Baptism God has called us to develop a life, one in between the high points, one that has deep roots and is fixed in two cities, that above and below. And so, we invite the Lord to ‘come under our roof,’ feed us the Eucharist, heal us through anointing and the confessional in order that we might live a life worthy of heaven.
The trip then, whether in the realm of the secular or sacred, gives strength to the life already lived, and that makes it special indeed. So head to the airport, sign up for that next spiritual boost, but let it come to its natural end. And if by chance you have been away for a long time, soaking up the sun and enjoying the view from Mount Tabor, then please come home. The life God has planned for you is waiting.