Journeys…throughout the course of our lives, we seek so much adventure, and we trek out way through life with small journeys that mimic our own personal and lifelong adventure. For me, this is that mimic – a terse trip abroad and an experience seeking to understand myself and grow – spiritually, mentally, physically. I’m not sure what it is about seeing grass greener than ever or hills that roll so steeper than those of the Cumberland Plateau. I’m not sure what new pleasure comes from seeing mist roll off the North Sea and across the Rivers Dee and Don early in the morning. I have only read little of these things.
In my life, I have seen mountains of old and sandy, white beaches. I have so oft been in the presence of an inescapable beauty – a beauty that (at a glance) – one would know Truth and proclaim God’s love and beauty along with it. These things I have seen already, so I can only imagine what new beauty awaits. I guess I now find myself slightly cynical to what lies ahead. After all, I’ve seen God’s countryside before. How much better can it be? What new perspective can it really offer if I’ve already believed, already proclaimed?
How can a countryside I’ve never seen change me? I know what beauty is, right? How can anything surmount it? How will this journey make a newfound believer out of me? Or will it? Can I really learn something from seeing sights I could read about, especially when I have seen such beauty before right in my own backyard?
But I guess that is my adventure – not seeing the sights, but discovering something new in life to appreciate, something new about myself to be gained, as well.
So it be…that I write my first bit of my journey seven days before departure. Because journeys don’t begin on planes or trains or automobiles. Journeys begin in our heads, much akin to the way dreams begin, and in our heads is where they remain. We are but an imagination from seeing all we ever needed and wanted to see; to be.
Thus begins my Scottish endeavor, my search, my spiritual retreat, my journey…home.
You pick up and leave. You pick up your life and you think you can change the world, or at least your half. So, you pick up and you go as far as you can, accomplish as much as you can accomplish. See as much as you can see, and what you end up seeing just may be exactly the opposite of what you expected.
But all for what? From London to Rome, Aberdeen to Orkney, Jackson to Indiana, I have not found what it is I’ve searched so desparately for. I have not found what has been by my side all along, and even now…even now that I know that it’s within my grasp, I still haven’t been able to reach out and grab what it is I want; what it is I need.
Four thousand miles away doesn’t change the color of the sky: it’s still blue. Even if there are clouds hiding it. Four thousand miles away doesn’t change who I am: I’m still Philip. Even if that’s not who I want to be; or if it’s exactly who I want to be. Both can be blessings or burdens. Four thousand miles away doesn’t flood me with friends or God or love; nor am I drought of them. Distance is not change, and it should never be mistaken as such.
In the words of those who knew better than I, ‘there are places I remember, all my life – though some have changed. Some, forever, not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places had their moments with lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some are dead and some living. In my life, I’ve loved them all.’
I don’t really quite know what ‘home’ is. Another guy smarter than me suggests it’s where the heart is, or possibly that place where they have to take you in.
I can’t put my finger on what home is, but I can put my finger on one thing: to home, there is no ‘where.’ It doesn’t have to be family or friends or a place. It doesn’t have to be where you’re happy or where you’re sad. It doesn’t have to be where you are, four thousand miles this way; four thousand miles that way.
Oh, how I wish it would just magically click. I wish all life were like that. But then again, I suppose it’s those times when we have solemn wishes that we realize we should be careful what we wish for. Maybe it’s supposed to be like this.
I suspect one day, I’ll figure out what and where home is. For now, it isn’t Jackson or Aberdeen or Indiana. It isn’t the United Kingdom or the United States. As much as I would like it to be, it isn’t Lakeshore or Lambuth Memorial. It isn’t friendships or lovers. It isn’t family or God.
I suspect it may have something to do with all of those things though, past and present. I would be overjoyed if, one day, when I settle down with a family of my own, my home will be right there.
Three months ago, I stepped off a plane and felt the air of a different world, beginning a journey and adventure that has marked a heavy mark on my life. A major part of who I am and the trek toward who and what I will become was spent here, in Aberdeen, Scotland.
As I sit here in these final days and final hours before I return home, I can’t help but think of why I came here to begin with. I saw this as a chance to grow – spiritually, mentally, physically. I don’t know if I’ve really done that. But I’m glad I set it as a goal.
I saw this as a chance to get out and get into the world – to discover some new pleasure from ‘seeing mist roll off the North Sea and across the Rivers Dee and Don early in the morning.’ I don’t know if seeing those things, or seeing those great cliffs of Orkney, or seeing the marshy lands of the Highlands, were life-changing experiences or not. But I’m glad I saw what I saw.
I saw another chance to go even farther away, on yet another big search for a place where I might ‘fit in’ just right. I seemed to have had this fixed view that by going farther and farther away and discovering more and more of the world, I might eventually find something that had been screaming ‘Philip’ all along, like I’d been dropped in the wrong place to begin with.
I knew before I left that was a bit foolish of me, though. I knew before I left that home was something that I already had. You can’t go on walking miles and miles looking for home. You have to take home with you, wherever you go. I’ve now accepted that.
I don’t know if I’m a better person for having come here. I don’t know how much I’ve changed. I don’t know how much ‘home’ has changed for me or for you, though I certainly have my fears about that. I guess there’s a lot of truth to the words, ‘The farther one travels, the less one knows, the less one really knows,’ because at this point, there’s a lot I just plain don’t really know anymore.
But that’s not so bad. In realizing that there’s a lot I don’t know, I’ve also managed to realize that I’m okay with that. I mean, I had to learn a lot to realize I had to learn a lot, y’know? That’s an encouraging thought, because it’s a humbling one. That’s what journey’s are all about, after all.
So, as I wrap up my last few days here and begin to head back, my mind fixes on a prayer. A prayer for home. A prayer for you. A prayer for me. A prayer, that wherever we may go, wherever we may be in our lives, we’d be home in ourselves.