I finally feel as though my body and my brain have reunited here in Seattle. Getting over jetlag is always worse coming West because our body clocks can only readjust in one direction – a little like the old digital clock we have in our bedroom which also only resets by scrolling numbers forward.
Over the weekend I spent a lot of time reflecting on my time away. It was not just a wonderful time with friends and family. It was also a great time of reminiscing. As my mother and I drove up to Brisbane we stopped at a lot of places that we had regularly frequented when I was a child.
The Sydney to Brisbane trek was a common holiday adventure for us – first undertaken in an old Austin A70 with 4 young kids. At that stage there were 3 ferries to cross rivers on the main highway which not only slowed us down but provided wonderful and exciting memories for all of us. The last of these disappeared many years ago and the highway now bypasses the towns that grew up around these important river crossings.
Some of the towns have faded into oblivion as a result. Others have managed to reinvent themselves as regional centres. They have refurbished their historic buildings and discovered the importance of their heritage. Unfortunately, most people are just too busy and too driven by the desire to get to their destination as quickly as possible to make the small detours necessary to enjoy these historic towns and I think they are poorer because of it.
As I reflected on this I was reminded of a conversation that Tom had with a Haitian friend many years. (I know I have mentioned this before but it seemed so appropriate here that I hope you will forgive me repeating it.) His friend commented – “You Westerners are so frustrating to be around. When you go on a journey, all you worry about is getting to your destination. For us Haitians it is the journey that matters. We set out in an old car. When it breaks down people come out to help. We make new friends and at the end of the journey we have a new story to tell.”
Life is about having stories to tell. Destinations matter – that is why I love to talk about the kingdom of God and our vision for the future – but what sustains our lives and satisfies our souls is not how many journeys we have been on, or even what the destination looks like, but what happened on those journeys. The memories they leave us with solidify family and friendship bonds, deepen our faith and strengthen our confidence in who we are. In fact I think that the longer the journey is and the more adventures we have along the way, the more important arrival at the destination becomes simply because we do now have stories that we are excited to share with others.
Jesus was always telling stories that helped people connect their faith to mundane everyday activities. The Bible is full of parables, stories of ordinary people doing ordinary things, because it is through these stories that all of us learn the important lessons of life.
Imagine the wonderful storytelling time we will all have when we get to the end of this great journey of life. Imagine the richness of that sharing time, the excitement and joy that even now we can anticipate as we think about who will be there and the memories we want to share with them. Imagine Jesus there in the midst, listening to our stories, sharing some of his own, entering into our journeys just as he invites us to enter into his.