Posted by: ritagone | March 7, 2012

A Broad Abroad

I didn’t write Rita’s Ramblings last week because I was in the U.K. at Christian Associates’ yearly Leadership Summit, and I didn’t have the time.  I wanted to write while I was there because I wanted desperately to share what was going on at the conference, to tell you about the wonderful speakers and program and facilities, the estate where we could look out on grounds that at one time hosted an unexploded bomb from World War II.

This was a short trip, but it confirmed one of the reasons why I love to travel.  In spite of the irritations and frustrations of airports and airline travel these days (and no one in their right mind would deny those), they are quite overcompensated for by the many wonderful encounters one has on trips with various sorts of people around the world.  People who you would never, ever meet in the confines of your own backyard.  And, most especially, people who have the amazing ability to broaden your horizons and your perspective about life.

On this trip I had the opportunity before the conference to spend almost two days in the Cotswolds, the area northwest of London famous for small, picturesque villages, one of which is the birthplace of William Shakespeare.  But along with the beautiful scenery, sheep on the slopes, and gorgeous weather (yes, it was sunny and warm, not rainy and overcast, a miracle in the UK for this time of year), what I found most enchanting and broadening were the people, every one of which had a story.  There was the single gal who was a beat cop but wanted to take the required tests to further her police career and instead decimated a knee on the physical endurance test, requiring surgeries and recovery and much therapy and many set-backs.  A heartbreaking story, but one which she told with great courage.  There was the elderly woman who recounted as if it were yesterday the sudden death of her husband from a heart attack, leaving her with three children, the youngest aged 4, the oldest 8, solicitors encouraging her to sell her quite substantial property in the country and move to the city, where she as a widow would be better suited in her new situation.  Instead, she dug her heels in and made her life work.  Now, in her 80’s, she still runs a Christian camp down by the river that runs through the piece of property she has managed to hold on to.  She is surrounded in the community by her children and her grandchildren, and the love and respect they show her is quite palpable.  There was the woman who decided to do a small bed & breakfast in her home and remodeled, adding two of the most modern, luxurious rooms I’ve ever had the pleasure to spend the night in.  They added two bedrooms, a new kitchen that is the epitome of modernity, and a lounge/TV area complete with a Dalek from the “Dr. Who” TV series which her husband bought at auction at the BBC awhile back!  Imagine a Dalek in your family room in the middle of the British countryside!  And I have a photograph to prove it.

And then, at our conference, such wonderful times spent catching up with old friends, many of them pioneers who are planting churches in some of the most difficult places to do so on the planet.  I am often asked about my involvement with CA, and I like to tell them about our work, for example, in Paris.  Often I’m met with a rolling of eyes, dripping sarcasm, and a comment that goes something like this: “Oh, that must be a rough assignment: planting a church in Paris!”  And then I feel I must correct that attitude by saying, “You have no idea how rough it is,” because bringing the gospel to Europe is one of the most difficult tasks we as believers can undertake, and those who have accepted the calling are brave souls indeed.  So to spend time with those church planters is an honor I can hardly believe.  To sit and listen to them talk about their work and their ups and downs is a privilege, to be able to pray with them and for them is one of the sweetest things I get to do, and to laugh and cry with them for a few days a year is worth every second of air travel and lines and flight delays and lost luggage.

So, truly, one of the most meaningful reasons for me to fly to other places is not just for the other places, although those other places are always fascinating.  There is no place like home; Dorothy got that one right.  Coming home from a trip of any length is sweet beyond measure.  But I’ve learned that when you’re somewhere else, it’s wise to be in the moment, to look around and enjoy the scenery.  You may not pass that way again.

So going to other places is always a memorable experience because the images of what you’ve seen are impressed on your brain and on your heart forever: fields and rivers and mountains and buildings that you will never forget.

But more than the physical surroundings, for me at least, the people I meet along the way and the people I’m then going to see when it’s a Christian Associates gathering are always what the trip is well worth going for.

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Responses

  1. As I recall, I was 3 not 4.


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