The land of the free and the home of the brave welcomed two little Kiwis last month, my husband and I. One year of marriage, our paper anniversary, was appropriately celebrated by collecting plane tickets as we travelled across the south, middle and west of the United States.
Journeying through a distant country has a unique way of widening your lens on life. When pulled out of your normal routine and into an unfamiliar context of foreign faces and places, your world cannot help but be changed.
Is the grass really greener?
While we often think the grass is greener on the other side, travelling also has the unique ability to expose you to how many different shades of green there are in every field, as well as patches of brown. Travelling gives you the reference points of others' lives and helps you to consider your own.
Anybody who has vacationed far from home will have experienced the subtle differences of a new place. There is no use in asking for the nearest petrol station, it's a gas station. You must not forget to lock your cat in at night, or a coyote could eat it.
These small differences pointed me to realise I am wrapped up in my own little world of familiarities and securities, but the world is much bigger than me. Travelling is one of the best ways to be hit with the reality; I am not the centre of the universe.
When you walk the streets of San Francisco, you pass thousands of homeless people who have been alone, unwell and often high for so long that their eyes are windows to nothing. Striding along, surveying these empty shells conjures gratitude for your own cushy life and sorrowful empathy swells in your chest.
Life is a lot harder and more complicated in most of the world than it is for me. I have a home, a family, a job, a church community who love me—and Jesus who loves me infinitely more. With such a comparatively easy existence, it isn't hard to become accustomed to comfort and expect things to go my way as if I am the author of my own destiny.
An ordained path
But travelling allows me to see how insignificant and at the total mercy of my surroundings I am. A Grand Canyon (existing for perhaps millions of years more than I have) hardly notices as I cast a stone as far as I can throw. It barely leaves the cliff face atop which I throw it, and it is impossible to see such a minute rock find its resting place below.
We are all little stones thrown into the realm of the Grand Canyon. During our life we think ourselves big and important, yet a gust of wind or jutting ledge could deter us from our intended path. Even if we set our sights on the clearest stream in which we would choose to fall, our destiny is in the hand of the Thrower and the landscape which has been ordained by the Creator.
So travel as much as you can. You will experience the hand of your Creator casting you into new and unfamiliar lands. You may even learn that the journey is not ultimately about you or your final resting place, but that your vacation is a vantage point for God's glory.
Harriet Knox lives in windy Wellington, New Zealand. She works for the Government, loves animals, and cannot function well without a gym membership. She became a Christian at University and attends Gracenet Community Church.
Harriet Knox's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/harriet-knox.html