*This reflection first appeared in the September issue of St. Paul’s Good News newsletter.
Lately I’ve been suffering from a bout of wanderlust. I’m not sure whether you’ve ever experienced this sensation before, but it’s a great word that accurately describes an irresistible desire to break free of routine, and go explore. Perhaps it’s the pressure of constant connectivity or busy schedules, but the thrill of an unplanned day spent taking in whatever may come sounds like quite the luxury.
I’m not exactly sure, but I think I may have caught this wanderlust bug sometime back in May, during a trip Elizabeth and I took to celebrate our 15 year wedding anniversary. During our travels through the San Juan Islands, we encountered a mother-daughter duo who were bicycling from island to island – camping and sightseeing by pedal power alone. We ran into them first at an alpaca farm (an odd, and endearing species – not to be confused with a llama). We noticed the cyclists again in a picturesque harbor, having lunch. The next day, after taking the ferry over to neighboring Orcas Island, we spotted them, yet again, pedaling up a steep mountain road. They were all over those islands, and it seemed like a fascinating way to bask in such a beautiful landscape of mountains and oceans.
If I didn’t catch wanderlust there in the San Juan Islands, then, perhaps, it was during a retreat to Duncan Park – our Diocesan Retreat Center in the Rocky Mountains. It was there that I took off, full of ambition, to run/hike/climb Mount Audubon. This “thirteener” lies at 13,229 feet above sea level, and provided a spectacular view at the summit. It is easy to be awed by God’s creation at thirteen thousand feet.
To add to my own short-term adventures, I’ve also been reading a fascinating book by British explorer Alastair Humphreys, called The Moods of Future Joys. He’s an odd sort of Brit who thinks it a playful thing to circumnavigate the globe on a bicycle. The title for this book was coined by Nigerian poet Ben Okri in his poem To An English Friend in Africa:
All that you are experiencing now
Will become moods of future joys
So bless it all.
Do not think your ways superior
Do not venture to judge
But see things with fresh and open eyes
Do not condemn
But praise what you can
And when you can’t be silent.
All that you are experiencing now will become the moods of future joys…so bless it all. Quite a powerful sentiment. Can we imagine blessing even those less thrilling parts of our lives? The grocery list? The dirty laundry? The mundane details of daily life that serve only to interfere with bigger dreams?
Okri’s beautiful turn of phrase captures in a powerful way what we mean by the word mindfulness. For instance, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh counsels against reading while eating, so as to not miss the small joys of taste and texture. I remember this, ironically, because I was reading his book while absentmindedly scarfing down a bowl of oatmeal. Upon reading his advice, I had to set the book down, laugh, and pay attention to the blueberries in my bowl. Multi-tasking can often times be counterproductive. It call dull our senses by overloading us. It seems so counterintuitive, so countercultural to slow down and single-task.
All that you are experiencing now…the good and the bad, the exciting and the mundane…will become the moods of future joys. So bless it all. And in doing so, you will find great blessing in return.