Homeward Bound

Many of us live busy lives — always doing something or going some place. I GPS everything when I travel– not because I’m prone to getting lost, but on long trips (and even short ones sometimes), I need a friendly reminder to turn left or exit right.

You see, I have a tendency to just drive, get lost in my thoughts, and enjoy the ride without thinking about my final destination. My digital companion, who often times mispronounces names of streets, gently jars me from my thoughts just in time to change course.

GPS is a great tool , and it’s user-friendly, but you still have to take heed when directions are given; otherwise, you will get lost. I’ve noticed that some people still prefer to use maps though. There’s comfort and nostalgia associated with using them I think. You can trace your route with a finger as you travel through small towns and cities with unique names–imagining what it might be like to live there and estimating how long it would take to get there. That’s part of the joy of traveling with companions, especially children. The trip becomes a series of teachable moments, a place where the classroom melds with real life, a time when all are engaged with each other and not their electronic devices.

Some trips are impromptu, but others are meticulously planned. In preparation for a trip to visit me a few years ago, my cousin (who is more like a sister) bought a map to start the 1200 mile journey to the East Coast. She had two eager passengers–my mom and my aunt. Neither my mom nor my aunt had ever taken such a long road trip, so they were a little apprehensive about the minutiae associated with the trip, but they trusted their driver. She quelled their fears and mapped out their adventure.

They planned to stop every couple hours to stretch and snack as needed. They would also stop just before each state line for a new map. My mom loves geography, so she volunteered to act as navigator. Finally, my cousin assured them that they’d break for lunch, drive just a bit further, and then retire for the night in a city of their choice.  The next day they would execute the same plan with my home being their final destination.

When they finally made it here after two days of traveling, they regaled me with stories about their adventure — how beautiful the mountains are, how my cousin almost got a speeding ticket, and how many towns they visited along the way. My cousin (God bless her) headed straight to the kitchen where my husband, her favorite Marine, greeted her with an adult beverage and a warm embrace. I will be forever grateful for her selflessness and patience with them. She has such a generous heart, and God loves a cheerful giver.

Their 2 1/2 week visit flew by, but it was just what the doctor ordered. This treasured time healed me in ways that modern medicine couldn’t. When they finally made it back home, my mom called to tell me so, but also to say that they never got lost — thanks in part to her superb navigating skills.

In life, we go through entire seasons being lost.  GPS can’t help, and neither will a map. You have to find your way somehow. Truth is, we never travel alone. God is always with us doing the navigating for us. That alone should soothe your troubled mind.

This past week, my aunt took the trip of a lifetime to her heavenly home. Like the trip to visit me years ago, she was a bit apprehensive about leaving us all behind to go to a place she’d only read about.  Like that trip years ago, she stopped in a few small towns en route to the funeral home to prepare for her celebration of life. Like that trip years ago, she had a map (to heaven in this case) which was drawn the day she was born in November 77 years ago. The journey continued one Sunday morning at her baptism. Along the way, she gave birth to her only child who later married and sired three girls who also had children. Most of her earthly journey was spent loving them and all of us with ever fiber of her being. God only asks that we love each other, and I think she did well in that regard.

It is my prayer that the one who orders our steps and plans our lives has already uttered the words that we all long to hear: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Rest in Paradise

“I Can Only Imagine” – Mercy Me