Sunday, August 25, 2013

Travel as Transformation

Linda and I just returned from a 25 day adventure to the Canadian Maritimes: Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, New Brunswick, with Montreal, Quebec City, Campobello Island and Acadia National Park mixed into the travel salad.  

One of the greatest values of travel is the opportunity to allow experiences to become parables or metaphors for peace, justice, and nonviolence.  Psalm 27:13 says: "I believe I shall see the goodness of God in the land of the living."  Similarly, the parables of Jesus are at least 80% real life examples through which the writer gives a theological twist at the end!  If we allow our travel experiences to become parables/metaphors, we "flavor" our adventures with a holy taste, beyond fast food utility to become a banquet of Kingdom delites!  We see life as a gift of grace through which God calls us to care and reflect God's will in all places at all times.  Here are some Maritime Parables/Metaphors:

MONTREAL'S JARDIN BOTANIQUE:  Imagine life size and building size sculptures of animals and beings, made of steel, mesh, and millions of plants and flowers providing the color.  There were buffalo, sheep, monkeys, herons, and more!  There was a Bird Tree of many birds on the verge of extinction.  Mother Earth with her long tresses was notated with a quote from Chief Seattle: "The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth." A turtle was placed atop a grand piano signifying harmony between the animal world and humanity.  The Genesis Creation stories were alive!

PORT ROYAL, NOVA SCOTIA : Canada's first permanent settlement, founded by French settlers in 1604.  The French and Micmag natives formed a strong friendship.  This friendship was tested and triumphed when late one year the village was destroyed by the English.  Winter was approaching and the French were taken in by the Micmag people, enabling them to survive the winter.  Think of Paul in Galatians: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, [French or Micmag], for we are all one in Jesus Christ."

CEILIDH (pronounced "cay lee"): In Gaelic the word means "kitchen party."  It is an evening of foot-stomping, spirited, joy-filled music and dance!  The fiddler is central, accompanied by a guitarist, a form of drum, and keyboardist (if available).  No depressing sounds, just unabashed fun interlaced with Irish dancing!  Think Psalm 150: "Praise God with...."

CHARLOTTETOWN DANCING:  Prince Edward Island's capitol hosts a daily noontime history of Canada through costumes and dances of its many ethnic groups: Native, Chinese, Slovak, Scottish, French, and more.  Such color and joy!  Sing: "I danced in the morning when the world was begun.... I am the Lord of the dance said God."

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: Prince Edward Island is loaded with reminders of this iconic fictional character created by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Lucy made P.E.I. famous.  You name it and there are "Anne of Green Gables" this and that!  Her story comprise the adventures of an orphan girl growing up in a loving, church going household, surrounded by a caring community.  Anne was loved.  Think of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, Moses and Pharaoh's daughter, Boys Town in Nebraska.  And I John: "Where there is love there is God."

BED AND BREAKFASTS: We stayed in several bed and breakfasts.  Most were of Victorian style and accommodated three to six couples.  You go back in time, surrounded by knickknacks of earlier eras, walking on creaking floors, sleeping in comfortable yet aged beds.  Too survive in this highly competitive B&B business, HOSPITALITY is the number one priority.  The way you welcome guests, being comfortable with people, taking the time to converse, always being at the beck and call, keeping the house clean, are all vital for survival.  And then there is the cooking, the unique dishes, the flavor. And always the PRESENTATION of the food.  The owners don't just quickly slop something onto your plate.  There is the parsley, the stylish slicing of the orange, the lightly sprinkled powdered sugar topped with fresh blueberries.  Think of the Lord's Supper, the Upper Room, and Jesus telling his disciples to go into the streets and welcome all to his B&B!

Destinations are more than people and places as in a petting zoo.  I believe that as we allow our travel experiences to become parables/metaphors of God's Reign, we are better able to become expressions of Christ's peace, justice, and nonviolence.  Christ is present in life, and we will be allowing life to reveal the Truths of Christ.

As a good Lutheran travel guy, Rick Steves says: "Happy travels!"