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As I write this I sit with a glass of scotch in my hand trying to get the hotel internet in Edinburgh to work, again, after many attempts today to try and post this.
Sometimes the internet is like life, it doesn’t do exactly what we think it should do. It stops us. It reorients us to the moment. We breathe. We wait. We get frustrated. Then the internet appears and the connection lost now comes back with new energy.
I’ve been in The UK with my friend Nadia on her book tour. Part vacation, part friend catch up time, part helping her in her tour, part chaplain, part wanderer of new places. I have enjoyed the break from New York City pace and breathed deeply the fresh countryside air.
In Krista Tippett’s new book Becoming Wise she interviews Pico Iyer who says “I think anybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around — you’re traveling in order to be moved. And really what you’re seeing is not just the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall but some moods or intimations or places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you’re sleepwalking through your daily life. I thought, there’s this great undiscovered terrain that Henry David Thoreau and Thomas Merton and a Emily Dickinson fearlessly investigated, and I want to follow in their footsteps.”
Calvin said this about becoming wise “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” We do not master knowledge of God like we do not master knowledge of ourselves. The great mysterious depths of knowing thyself and knowing God take a lifetime and more.
Pico Iyer knows that when we travel we have the opportunity to know a little more wisdom about ourself and I would add about God. I can attest to this truth in my travels this week. We are rendered open and faced with truths about ourself that we might not fully understand, but traveling has a way of pulling the covers back so we can see what’s there.
The Psalmist said “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” It does not take one getting on a plane to travel to a new land to set one’s heart on this pilgrimage. The pilgrimage, the traveling, is life. This is the path before us. A welcome to wisdom, learning more about God and self.