My Genie in a Lantern, Or The Traveler’s Heart

When I woke yesterday morning I was instantly gripped with fear. I sprang out of bed immediately in action mode, even though it was still totally dark outside. My part time job had paid for me to attend a drug & alcohol counseling training in Portland beginning yesterday morning, and I was convinced I was going to be late.

Portland is 3.5 hours from where my wife, daughter and I live in Central Oregon, and therefore required me waking up incredibly early to get there by 9am. I was worried because my alarm wasn’t what woke me up that I slept through it and I was going to be late for my training. So late I wouldn’t get credit for the training and my employer would lose their money.

Turns out my internal alarm woke me up at 4:43am, two minutes before my alarm was set to go off. I was impressed my internal clock was so accurate, especially after enduring a daylight savings time switch the day previous.

Going through the mountain pass I unexpectedly got caught in a fierce snow storm that had me driving 20 mph on a road I was only able to follow by the reflective poles lining its edge. Being so early I had no tire tracks to follow, and as such I had to guess the location of the lane. My nerves were on edge, and my thoughts not focused on driving were on my infant daughter. Before the snow there was a long patch of black ice that fishtailed the truck in front of me.

Needless to say one of the most worrisome commutes I’ve ever done.

So all that to say that after the nearly 4 hour drive to Portland, the 8 hour training, the return drive, and then going to work for the night, I didn’t have a post planned for next morning (today).

Well, as usual, I’m wrong. You’d really think I’d be used to this. I’m wrong because of this:

Something happens in my heart when I travel. It matters not if it’s on foot (I backpacked almost the entire state of Virginia a few years ago), on a train (my wife and I relied on them this year on our 3 week Europe trip), on a bicycle, in a car like yesterday, or even in crowded airplanes – all forms of travel produce this in me.

Instead of trying to describe what it is, I’ll just relay the outcome: whenever I travel I return home with a journal full of notes about me and spiritual life. Something about being in motion, about going somewhere more than across town, causes my heart to meditate, reflect and think.

So much comes to me that I have to scribble as it appears otherwise I’ll never be able to remember even half. Yesterday I ended up writing more in my journal than I have in the last three weeks combined.

This happens consistently enough to be practically formulaic for me. Charlie + Travel = Connection With God. I think I could plan trips banking on it, which isn’t a bad idea as if I’m feeling disconnected I know it could be time to, well, go.

Truth be told I haven’t felt as connected to God lately – as in not as aware of his ever-presence. It doesn’t feel like he’s spoken in any way for a while. It seems like a dry spell, the cliche “desert.”

You can critique my spirituality all you want for it. It’ll probably only annoy me and feel condemning for not being religious enough. And it most certainly won’t change me. However it seems like these trips in a way re-connect me with God. Its very covert, as it doesn’t feel like him speaking – however I am convinced that this is one of the ways my I connect with God. He reminds me he is there by welling up my heart, and not taking the flashy road of blowing my mind by leaving me with a sense that God spoke. In fact I usually have to realize on travel days that it is God working in me.

But that’s me. Do you have a way that God seems to speak to you through? (Is that last sentence grammatically correct?) Does it seem overt or much more subtle? Or does God just always keep mixing it up for you?

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6 Responses to My Genie in a Lantern, Or The Traveler’s Heart

  1. David says:

    Nice post, Charlie!

    I was made to travel. Although I don’t always enjoy flying, it is a tool to get me to places that inspire me. I love the train through the Canadian Rockies, and I use the “T” in Boston when it is convenient. I can drive for hours on a sunny day if the traffic is light and the scenery is nice. I drove RT 1 from Vancover, CA to Tijuana, MX in 1988. (I skipped LA)

    I have been to 13 countries, and 42 states. And I’d love to go more.

    I always seem to connect with God when I listen to certain music. Right now it is Julie True and Eden’s Bridge; but there are others for sure. I connect when playing my guitar alone… worship team has been an exercise in frustration.

    Because I like long showers, I seem to connect there from time to time. I preach to myself, or write a blog in my mind.

    I can have a tough time at church when it gets to be all religious. If the worship team is connecting, that is a good sign.

    • I can testify the shower is a great place to (mentally) write blog posts, though I find often write so much in my head I can’t remember it all.

      Oooooh train through the Canadian Rockies sounds amazing. Is it pricey?

      • David says:

        7 Days Toronto to Vancouver
        October 22, 2010 – December 31, 2010 $1,945
        January 1, 2011 – April 30, 2011 $2,045

        I used to be a travel writer for a bit –

  2. jay @ bethegospel says:

    I’d say that sentence is grammatically correct enough for a youth pastor like me cause you got the point across through it. But ask an English Prof and they’ll roll their eyes probably.

    When i have unexpected times of long silence I tend to force myself to dialogue with God. Also, when i’m in the midst of a boring (to me) sermon I journal and find fruit from that.

  3. Pingback: I’ll Be Meeting God In The Air FRIDAY, Or Charlie Takes Vacation Again | Charlie's Church of Christ

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