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Traveling Takes A Step of Faith

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My daughter has always accused my husband and me of being the Ma and Pa Kettle of travels. We’ve been sort of lucky and managed to bumble into fantastic places. We like to say my husband often ‘Homer’s’ us into good deals and cool places. But when we travel, it is truly an act of faith. I never traveled much as a kid and when I married, it was a matter of wonder to me that we could get on a plane and fly to fantastic places that had nothing to do with life as we lived it back home. There’s a degree of faith to climb onto a plane and assume it’s going to get you from Point A to Point B safely. When we first started traveling, you couldn’t check out where you were going on travel sites and look at reviews, so you read catalogs and trusted the pictures portrayed the hotel or resort as it actually was. But there was also an act of faith in agreeing to spend money on travel rather than buying that new couch or new car and to never look back in regret on whatever you chose to do.

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People have asked me where is my favorite place, and I would have to say the first place to come to mind is Italy. I know to many people, the first place in Italy they think of is Rome with its Coliseum, St. Peter’s, and the Roman Forum, and I love Rome, too. But I found Cinque Terre one of my favorite pieces of Italy, five villages carved out of the rugged coast of the Italian Riviera. I love the way these villages have balanced color and symmetry of nature with the man-made.  I have friends and family who like to plot their own itineraries, but we’ve always tended to travel with groups or sail on cruise ships.

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There is a sacred beauty and balance in travel, and we can see unfamiliar places with new eyes. Sadly, we don’t always see the sacredness and beauty in the familiar that surrounds us every day, so it takes travel to take us out of ourselves and our everyday world.

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Another favorite place of mine is Venice. I realize none of these places I’m choosing are particularly surprising when it comes to being favorite places, but they are the places that speak to me in meaningful ways. In Italy, there are such contrasts between man-made and nature-made beauty, and yet it all appears to come of one piece, and there’s a balance between nature and man that easily speaks to the soul.

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Easter Island is a place I found myself thinking, ‘Oh yeah, aliens are definitely a possibility when you see these monoliths.’ But again, it’s a place that’s humbling. When you see these statues, you feel they make no sense, but the place gives you a feeling this was exactly what it was meant to be. You look at the guy with the party hat, and you figure he must have been a fun guy and had quite a story to tell.

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Machu Pichu is another place I love that combines the beauty and wonder of man-made structures incorporated into the ethereal beauty of a natural setting. There are places in the world that strike such a sacred, balanced note, that even tourists can’t distract from the harmonious settings.

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The Australian Outback was another amazing place to visit. Of course there, it was an act of faith that the nets on our heads would protect us from the Australian flies! This is a land that might at first seem unforgiving, and yet it lets you know there is a specialness to every place on earth. If we let ourselves be still, God speaks to us wherever we are, and travel does allow us to take a step of faith that is well worthwhile. Travel invites the whole world into our hearts and minds.

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share!

Bren

 

 

 

 

 

Through the Glass Darkly, But Then, Face-To-Face, Happy Birthday Dad!

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Many of us baby boomers take the time each year to acknowledge the birthday of our parents’, or someone else dear to us who has passed away. As we age, I know more and more  friends have died, and with Facebook, we are more cognizant of the passage of time and how easily people slip away without us quite realizing how it happened.

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My dad’s parents and siblings meant so much to him in his lifetime. Family reunions were an important event to him until the end of his life. He and his sister shared a special bond toward the end of their lives, and it was precious to see. Our final barrier to death is that we can imagine what our parents might think of us today, but we can’t know for sure. It’s through the glass darkly now, but when we die, it will be a face-to-face experience.

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I am a notorious person for trying to figure out what things mean and how our history affects the way we see life–especially how we view our own lives. I love sharing memories with old friends, again, this is made much easier thanks to social media. But perception is such a part of those memories. It’s weird when you relate a memory to a friend and they have no idea what you’re talking about, and yet they can tell you another memory you don’t recall at all. Our percepts of the world are always our own, and what we perceive is like no other person’s experience. Below I would like to share an experience I had with my dad not long before he died.

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I remember a few months before he died my father had a minor heart attack and when he was in the hospital they put tubes down his throat so he could breathe. Afterwards, when he was back at his assisted-living apartment,  he told me about the experience. He said he drifted up to the ceiling and was looking down at all the people in the operating room. He saw a light.

My heart raced when he told me this and I asked, “Did you see Mom, or Grandma or Grandpa?”

Tears welled up in his eyes and I felt his sadness. “No, but I knew if I remembered the name, I could go.”

A flash of hope shot through me. “Was the name God or Jesus?”

He didn’t answer, but kept repeating, “If I could just remember the name.”

Every time I visited my father, he seemed a little bit stronger. After a month, I finally had the courage to bring up the subject again. “Remember when you used to say when you were dead, you were dead, and there was nothing else after?”

“Yes.”

“And do you remember when you were having that procedure done in the hospital you floated up to the ceiling?”

“Of course I do.”

“Dad, I think you came back for a reason. I think God was giving you another chance.”

After a moment’s hesitation, he said,  “I believe you’re right.”

“WouldyougowithmetochurchonSunday?” My question came out in one breath.

“Yes, I would.” He took my hand in his own.

The following Sunday, we drove up to the school auditorium where my church has services on Sundays. It was a hobbling walk for him up to the auditorium, but we managed. People reached out to give assistance as if realizing what a momentous occasion it was.

We sat in the back row of folding chairs, and another graying man leaned over and stared at my dad. “I know you. I used to do some building for you.”

My father’s eyes blurred for a minute, but then lit up with a hint of the old spark. “Darrell Hayes,  I remember you, too.”

After church, the men walked out together and spent time reminiscing about people they used to know. It seemed no small miracle that my father hadn’t been to church in nearly eighty years, and yet he’d found a church friend.

Each Sunday my father and I would go to church and the pastor always seemed to have the right sermon. I had confidence my father would learn the name he was searching for.

Two months later, when it was time for Dad to go, he had no need to struggle. The last time I saw him, he held my hand. “I’m ready to go now. You just gotta know the name.”

And all I can say today is I’m happy you learned the name, Dad, I’m so happy you learned the name. And happy birthday to you!

Thanks for stopping by.

Love,

Bren

 

 

 

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