Beyond the expected

Most people who know me know that I absolutely love to travel. I love planning, mapping, researching, writing reviews, and soaking up every minute of my trips. I have been passionate about traveling since I was young, and I’m always keen to start dreaming of new lands, people, and food.DSC01765

A common thought about traveling, and one expressed by some of my family and friends is that travel is a method of escaping real life. It’s a way to de-stress, and forget about your worries. I’ve even been asked before why I feel the need to escape my life at home. For me, escaping life is the last thing on my mind when I travel. And often times, it is anything but stress-free.

Traveling fills me with joy because it enriches my spirit, broadens my perspective and helps me to grow beyond anything I thought possible. Traveling has added so much to my life, and it has helped shape who I am. It has made me more patient, more understanding of those who are different from me, and more connected to friends I meet from different parts of the world.

It has helped me see the struggles others encounter around the world, and the importance of sharing what others may lack. I believe that traveling brings a world of good into my life at home. I don’t cra
ve these experiences in order to escape, but in order to live my life more fully.

One of my favourite aspects of traveling is finding the highest mountain peak and spending time at the top, contemplating life. Sometimes I’m surrounded by tourists, but other times I find myself entirely on my own. I can’t help but feel my connection to the earth and the universe when looking out from the top of a mountain. To feel my small size in comparison to the immense scene set in front of me makes this beautiful earth feel all the more tangible. To be part of a world in which this beauty exists is a cause for celebration.

This reminds me of Psalm 96:11-12, “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.” This psalm reminds me of the vibrant, living world around me and how grateful I am to be a part of it.

I think an important question to ask ourselves about traveling is not how to escape daily life, but how to bring these travel experiences to life at home. How does traveling enrich your life? How can we uncover the lessons learned in getting lost, in language misunderstandings, or in cultural blunders? How can we take the gifts we are given in the experiences of each country we visit?

The Nepali people show us warmth of heart, the Italians show us passion, the Australians show us national pride. And these are just brief glimpses into what we can learn from the countries we visit, and the people who call them home. Travel experiences don’t remain in a two week holiday, or in the pages of your journal. They are etched onto your heart.

Traveling has also taught me another important lesson. It has taught me that it is crucial to listen to your intuition when you are drawn to particular passions in life. If there are things you can’t help but think about in your free time, it is important to honour those passions. Make time for them if you can, because the more they light your soul, the more you are able to shine for those around you.

Lauren is a student of Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy at the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. She finds joy in reading, traveling, writing, deep conversation, spending time outdoors and much more.

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