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I am the one who prepares for the trips that we take in our household. My husband might dream up the trip, and he is always the one who buys the tickets. But, like it or not, I am the one who thinks about the intricacy of the journey itself and gets our family of four ready. I make the purchases, and stuff the suitcases. I am also the one who makes sure our house will be in order and stay in order while we’re away.
Today we are leaving for India. Yesterday I spent the whole of the day preparing for our journey. This involved me going up and down the stairs at least three dozen more times than I usually do in a day while I piled and shuffled, and shifted and wedged. As I rolled the clothes and doled things out into zip lock bags, I continually thought about what still remained to be packed or what was left to still be done. I gladly let my parents take the kids out for a handful of hours, and I kept my husband on his feet doing errands for much more time than he preferred. It was a long and tedious affair, and worth it only because the end result, the destination, is worth it.
I’ve packed for these epic trips to India so many times that I should be a professional. (In fact I just counted, and I’m about to embark on my 12th trip to India!) People would probably pay good money for packing skills like these. But, truth be told, it feels epic if we travel to Florida for Spring Break, or Seattle to see my sister, or if we go an hour away to violin camp. Preparing for a trip is a big deal.
I began mentally preparing for our trip weeks ago, considering any purchases that might need to be made — maybe a new suitcase, or a new pair of sandals, or maybe a tablet for our little, major reader. I began structuring my whole life around the preparation for the trip well over a week beforehand. This meant diligently crossing off items on my list at work, trying to get to bed early to get over a last minute head cold, eating as many of the fresh CSA vegetables as we could, and portioning out the last gallon of milk in rationed sizes to the kids. There was strategic washing of laundry, some important phone calls, a turn-the-house-upside down search for one child’s headphones. And yes, this time we checked our passports, visas, and other vital documentation very carefully.
Yes, preparing for a trip is a big deal. Even if we can set aside worry and anxiety, the whole of our mental capacity seems to get caught up in the movement from one place to another, and everything that we try to do to remain stable in and through the process. Our every act and intention becomes focused on the journey.
I’m completely ready for the moment when I will settle into my airplane seat and feel relief in knowing that I’ve left home behind, but I’m prepared (to the best of my ability) for what lies ahead. I worked hard to prepare, and I know that my efforts will not be in vain.
There is goodness in the careful purpose and intention that we dedicate to preparing for a trip. I have been imagining what other areas of my life might benefit from the careful purpose and intention of well-preparedness. What relief might I feel in better preparing for a work day, an important meeting, a difficult conversation, or attending worship? Any amount of intentional consideration of one of these events would do me good, in both heart and mind, toward making me ready (to the best of my ability) for what lies ahead.
Here’s to the journey, be it epic or really, very ordinary.
Katy Sundararajan is the International Student Advisor and ThM program administrator at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.