“There are all sorts of reasons people get out into the world,” started Don one day over coffee. He’s a pastor at a local church in Santa Barbara, and one of my newest friends. “But for me,” he continued, “there’s always one question that I keep in the back of my mind. And for all the years I’ve been traveling, I don’t have a neatly-packaged answer for it yet. I’ve got some ideas, but nothing concrete.”
I raised a wait-a-minute finger and reached for my notebook, sure that this would be worth writing down. And it was:
What is “sacred space?”
“You know you’re in it,” he said, and patiently waited for my nod of agreement. “So what about these places makes them holy?”
Together we rattled off a montage of sites and holy places and destinations around the world, from the obvious ones, like Basilica San Pietro at the Vatican, to the more obscure, like whale watching tours in California. But across the spectrum, in each of those places, there are found aspects of the character of God. Even in the quiet places. Especially in the quiet places.
Contemplative travelers and true faith-seekers, then, can be one and the same. All created things are God’s handiwork, and we were made in his image (Genesis 1:27). The more we voyage and the more we see of each other, the more we see of the face of God.
Our journey, much like the nature of God, is constant and both ever-unfolding and ever-elusive. The beautiful part about either one is the mystery. The not-knowing seeker, still seeking.
While my earthly position is apt to change, my spiritual home remains anchored. Travel, then, is like following a kite around the world, if only to learn about how the wind blows elsewhere. Or even if it blows.
A Traveler’s Creed:
And [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.” (Acts 17:26-28)