One of the most common points that has come up lately in discussions on meaningful travel is that travel is experiential. But the “experience” alone rarely comes with inherent meaning. Meaning is usually something we discover or come to understand after the event when we reflect. No reflection, no meaning, or so it seems in most cases.
So here I am 24 hours after snapping the above photo in a small town in Ohio. I was on a break between work meetings, wandering around the quaint downtown of this quintessential Midwest town thinking about how wonderful the trip has been: a fun location, a great boutique hotel, surprisingly good meals, wonderful company and positive outcomes of our meetings. The only thing left now was a final dinner and then the trip home.
One out of two went well.
Dinner was great at the home of a colleague who lives in this small town and was the reason why we met there.
Getting home? Let’s just say I made it back.
The short of it is that my flight was cancelled in the middle of the night before departure. It took two hours just to schedule a new flight out of a different city. I couldn’t drop my rental car in the new city, so that meant paying over $200 for a taxi ride for a colleague and me to get to the new airport. All of this resulted in my getting a little less than one hour of sleep that night.
Throughout this exhausted hassle, I kept clinging to the line that, “It’s not an adventure unless something goes wrong.” I half wondered, half prayed, “So God, what adventure do you have in store for me?” God didn’t say.
I ended up leaving from an unexpected city, stopping over in another unexpected city and eventually getting home. No life-changing conversations on either flight. No dramatic moments. No adventures. Just home.
So here I am – home – and I have two realizations.
First, I don’t get it. I don’t understand why any of these travel hassles occurred…yet. And that’s the key: I have to accept that reflection takes time. I just got back. I haven’t had enough time (nor sleep) to adequately process this. You can’t rush some things or, as I recently read in a comment by Brother Lawrence, the 17th century monk known for his humble pursuit of the presence of God, you can’t “go faster than grace allows.”
Second, not everything has to make sense. I want a bow tied and a pleasant little life lesson or moral attached to my every experience. But that’s not always the case.
Sometimes we just have to live in the tension of not knowing and trust God to make sense of things later. And so I do.
Fast forward one more day. I had a good night’s sleep and with it comes enough clarity. I still don’t get it all, for I suspect there is more to uncover. But this I do understand now:
I’m home. Nothing more than that. I made it home and am so thankful just for that often underappreciated blessing. Sometimes gratitude is its own destination.
I don’t have to understand what I’m not yet capable of understanding. I don’t have to get it all. In fact, yesterday, all I really needed to get was home.
And I did.
That’s more than enough.