I LOVE to travel, like many perhaps (and justifiably so!). I make it a point to do it. I believe travel ignites new perspectives – ones you’ve never had before; it gives one new lens through which to see the world, and adds new color to life. To travel is to live. What I truly appreciate about travelling is not only the external journey, but the journey into oneself. Last summer, in just a month and a half throughout five languages, cultures, traditions, beliefs (and foods!), I laughed, cried, marveled, contemplated, smiled, wrote, sang, fought, surrendered, danced, prayed. The list goes on. And – as a journey into the self does – I learned. More about myself. About how truly imperfect I am. But with a perfect God who abounds in love and mercy, somehow I am able to embrace my imperfections, yet grow from them just as Jesus’ apostles did. Throughout my recent travels, I grew particularly closer to St. Peter – keeper of heaven’s gates. I finally understood how he must’ve felt…the depths of his sadness and despair when he felt like he abandoned Jesus, his best friend – “How could I be forgiven,” Peter must’ve asked – and the redemption he must’ve felt when he atoned for his shortcomings and Jesus exonerated him, after which Peter changed the world. Peter showed me that sometimes, mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than before; that sometimes, we only arrive to the right places through the wrong choices; you win some, you learn some, right? That is life, that is travel to me…it’s about growing and continuously fighting to preserve that inner peace. And to utilize that to help others and the world. To my surprise, in the haphazard corners of the world were answers to some of my life questions, dreams turned into reality. Victor Hugo – an iconic French writer (whose origins I was blessed to explore in this recent voyage and popular works include the immortal Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) – wrote: “The human soul has still greater need of the ideal than of the real. It is by the real that we exist; it is by the ideal that we live.” I could not agree more. I felt these words in the French countryside, where I couldn’t understand how God could be anything else but of beauty – for all things He has created is beautiful – and how he could be anything else but for us? God is the ideal I believe Hugo speaks of. With all that’s happened, I cannot help but be a different person – a symbolic and auspicious sentiment as my birthday (last year) transpired during my travels, and of all places in Spain where St. Teresa of Avila – a revolutionary in Christianity – was from. She often advised those who despaired, those who feared change and rebuilding to “begin again.” These words deeply resonated with me – simple as they are – and planted courage inside to embrace the truth in my heart, to faithfully adhere to my confirmed quest, to “follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far” (a la Don Quijote from Man of La Mancha!). Finally, I gained clarity in direction after deeply craving it for a while now, and strengthened ideals I used to be insecure about. This initially intimidated me just after having turned 29 but I also realized that when an inner-truth is revealed, there is no other choice but to stand firm in your mission (no matter how hopeless, no matter how far!). This is how we achieve our dreams. Achieving your dream after all is not defined by the results of what you dreamed of doing, but the actual doing of what it is you desire. Failures are inevitable, but true failure is when you stop trying. Failure is your best teacher if you choose to learn from it. In the wise words of Earl Nightingale, “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” So onward I go. Into the world, into myself. Into the will of God for me. Of all the majestic things I’ve beheld, nothing is more majestic than the divine spark that exists within everyone for it is this spark, I believe, that compels man to create majesty. If man is capable of creating wonders that defy our understanding and imagination, how much more majestic is the one who created man? Thus, as St. Augustine wrote, to fall in love with God really is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement. This is what travel means to me…to fall in love with God more, to seek Him more, and to continue finding Him all over the world and in the depths of my heart.
PS: I’ve said enough (perhaps too much) but one more revelation: tasting the milk in Spain helped put love into perspective: those who say true love does not exist are simply wrong. True love exists – some fortunate enough to experience it in a worldly form (or the eros form that everyone seems to desire more), and some never having the opportunity to feel it in this earthly life. But just because one has never tasted love does not mean it doesn’t exist. This is part of why I am so in love with my faith. Because even in times I don’t feel loved, I know that I am loved, and that true love exists through Him who is love: Agape – the highest form of love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).” So, just like that, I always thought milk was ok. After countless moments of mediocre milk, I concluded that milk was just…mediocre. And then I had the milk in Spain…I was proven wrong. Just because I never had the perfect milk does not mean it didn’t exist, clearly. The milk was THAT GOOD. IMHO 🙂
Pic below was taken on 7-19-15 at St Peter at Catedral de la Almudena in Madrid, Spain. Photo courtesy of Myrna 🙂