A Different Story (from the ones you’ve probably heard)

I love spending time with people who travel the world–or people who come from other places and have traveled to the U.S. where, happily, our paths have crossed and ended  in a meal or a long cup of coffee.  Hearing their stories, flipping through their pictures, and comparing notes of my own travels, enlarges my view of the world and helps me gain perspective.

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Specifically, talking to people who go other places reminds me that the world is enormous and that there are a billion, ordinary, life-changing events unfolding on every continent everyday, even as I brush my teeth in the morning.  I may not know what each one is, but being aware that I am small in this vast universe, that my joys and sorrows are coinciding with myriad others across the globe, helps me to disengage from my toxic tendency to navel-gaze.

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And it helps me to reject the ubiquitous, Hunger Games media frenzy in our culture.

Because, again, my traveling friends remind me that many important things are happening all the time, and no one is reporting them.

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It’s life-affirming to remember this.

Just because the Internet screams at me, demanding that I watch the dickie-bird and react, doesn’t mean that it’s telling me the truth.  By that, I mean, the whole truth, the larger truth of life.

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My friends remind me, and I feel relief.

I think to myself, I am small, thank God, and there’s more to this story of the world.

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Africa

I am back from ten days of stepping through the looking glass.  Africa was magical and difficult as I knew it would be.  I am thankful to have been a part of something truly special during the time I was there and hope to be able to return soon.  Somehow–and really, I know it was grace from God–I managed to endure heat, humidity, different foods, travel, sleeplessness, and culture stress without so much as blinking.  This was not the case when I lived in Asia where, for the first six months, every rumble in my belly was a portend of doom, and constant power outages felt like God’s divine discipline.  Of course, this was a short-term thing and I did not have my children with me.  Now I love my kids, but I could not BELIEVE the ease of traveling with only myself to worry about.  It was ridiculous how streamlined everything felt and I think I wore a bewildered grin on my face the entire trip.  I was probably a little obnoxious.

I am in my bed at the moment, eating Grape Nuts which are my passion.  The dogs are at my feet, both of them curled like medium-sized caterpillars.  I think they’re glad the lenient owner is back.  Daddy has his rules, you know.  Apparently, I slept hard last night.  I don’t really know as I have no memory after eating welcome-home-cake for dinner.  But they tell me I slept.  My daughter came in this morning and informed me that she’d carried on a conversation with her father about emotions in the middle of the night.  She said she looked at me lying there on my side of the bed and could tell I wouldn’t wake up, whatever that means.

It’s good to be back.  I will never stop loving the world and its corners.  Each time I travel I leave my heart on some shore.  But I know that this is my home for now.  I am thankful to be reunited with my family, my church, my dogs, and Grape Nuts.  Now I think I’ll drink some East African coffee and take a little nap.  Talk soon.