Life is about the in between spaces, the liminality or limbo where you’ve left some place but you haven’t arrived in the next place yet. It’s like being a traveler in transit.
I’m doing a lot of transiting (and train-sitting) on my Europe Voyage, and there’s something surprisingly comforting about it. As a TCK, Third Culture Kid, I’m caught between worlds, never sure which land to call my own. As a follower of Jesus, I am a stranger on the earth, not bound for an earthly Kingdom but awaiting a heavenly one (Hebrews 11:13-16).
As I voyage, I am finding that more meaning is found in the journey than the destination. Probably 1/3 of my trip involves transit on my feet, cars, busses, ferries, planes. I also do a lot of just plain sitting and waiting ‘till it’s time to hop onto the next gas-propelled shuttle over land, air, or water.
I don’t really like waiting. It feels useless and even wasteful. In our fast-paced world of efficiency, productivity and money-making, transiting seems like an inconvenience or even a barrier. Yet, transiting is a part of our human existence bound by time and space. Waiting reminds us of our humanity.
Some try to overcome this limitation, to be sure, by finding the most independent and direct transit method possible. A friend of mine likes to retreat on the grounds of an elite school in the English countryside to relax and ponder. Sometimes he sees helicopters landing as parents drop off their children for class. Imagine that!
Their wealth gives access to go from point A to point B in the shortest duration possible with total independence to navigate the skies. They seem to have overcome our human limitations of time and space, at least to some extent. They can continue to move through life speedily accruing wealth.
In a fast-moving world, it is counter-cultural to take the slow way. Yet, often the slow way is the soul way. Recognizing my propensity toward valuing myself by accomplishments and productivity, a couple years ago, I began to practice going at soul speed. I would ask the question, what time and space does my soul need to absorb and process all that I’m experiencing?
As I travel to 10 countries in 2 months with the ambitious goal of understanding my ethnic heritage and the spiritual history of colonization, this question is even more imperative. I need to make choices to go slow so that I can go deep. I don’t want to merely skim the surface, I desire to plumb the depths of human history and divine mystery.
I left a day early to come to Ireland. Instead of catching a two-hour flight across the Irish Sea to Dublin, I took 1 car ride, 4 train rides, 1 ferry ride, 1 bus ride, then walked 10 min to my lodging place. The journey took me nearly 12 hours—an entire day.
But I’m glad I took the slow way. It afforded time to process my previous 2 weeks in England, to relish the raw beauty of the sheep-speckled landscapes in northern Wales, to say goodbye to the island I was leaving behind as our boat pulled out of the harbor, and to greet the smaller island as we pulled into the Dublin dock. My soul arrived ready for my Celtic Journey with a group of St. Patrick pilgrims.
Even when I’m done with this voyage and back home in that small rock in the pacific (Oahu, Hawai’i), I will still need these kinds of gaps, these wide-open spaces for deep breathing and quiet reflection. Life, especially in the city, seems to race forward at a ferocious speed. It’s easy to forget why we’re here as strangers of the earth awaiting a Heavenly City.
“[These people of faith] admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own…a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
So let souls move slowly, at a walking pace, and let us live not only for the pinnacles of achievement but for the journey it takes us to get there. It is in transit that our souls are shaped.
Whilst on the ferry over the Irish Sea, my heart prompted me to sing a little song from Hawai’i. “Da Opihi Song” was written by Chanel Bumanglag. Used with permission.
(c) Chanel Bumanglag 2014