As Jews all over the world concluded the holiday of Passover and now are entering the desert for the next 40 years (Biblically speaking), I think about… travel! (Maybe it is because traveling was not a big thing this past year that I feel the withdraw effects …).
The Hebrews are exiting slavery and entering freedom. Freedom they will find in the desert. There, in a place of nothingness, they find their identity as Jews, their purpose as a free people.
Through these biblical stories I reflect on my story, my travels spiritually and physically and where it led me.
Physically, I’ve traveled to Philadelphia, not for 40 years, but for only 10 weeks to accompany my daughter and son-in-law as they greet their firstborn child.
How rewarding this travel is.
Spiritually, this travel began long ago, as seedlings..when the kids were born.
I contemplate on the journey my husband and I travelled as we raised our children, I recall the many times we talked and discussed parenting.
Did we do everything right? Did we not make a mistake?
It would be untruthful if I said I did not make a single mistake raising our kids–of course I did! I vividly recall instances when I was angry/frustrated. I remember nights where I put my head on the pillow questioning if I said the right thing, took the right action.
What I realize is that we all make mistakes. There is no manual for the “perfect child booklet”. No place tells us – just do this, this and that and your child will come out perfect!
And it is not only about raising children. Is there a perfect way of being, anyway? I hope you say no!
It’s a journey. Life is a journey!
And with all journeys come discoveries.
How should I say what I want to say so it reaches the other person in a way that is building and not destroying?
I remember growing up my parents telling us, the kids, that our tongue can build somebody up, as well as destroy someone’s reputation, destroy somebody’s self-esteem, destroyed somebody’s vision of what’s possible for themselves.
When the Hebrews left Egypt one of the earliest tasks God gave them was building a tabernacle. Why this task? He gave them a project so they will rally together, have a purpose, become a team. A task so they would feel worthy and do the best they can for each other, thus benefiting the whole.
A travel that has a mission is a journey with purpose. Destination yet unkown.
The journey’s impact is when we do it together with other people, surrounding ourselves with those we trust, individuals with whom we can consult, friends with whom we can be courageous and vulnerable.
Travel with people who not only give us permission to admit out loud we made a mistake in a particular path in our journey, but also allow us to make a turn, to pivot. No guilt or shame, but rather pivoting and trying something new. Not knowing the final destination, yet making the daily choices in our travel.
As we travel, we will undoubtedly experience stepping on unpleasant thorns, but let’s not forget that we can also see magnificent flowers along the way….if we just open our eyes and look!
This traveling, in this journey called life, is what makes us who we are. With the thorns and the flowers, all included. That is the identity that we gain.
The Jews spent 40 years in the desert, gifting them the opportunity to understand who they are, to realize the power that they had. Our travel offers us the same benefits.
Travel with a purpose helped them and will help us reach the destination.
This is our travel in 2021.
Our travel, collectively as well as personally, will have its ups and downs, trials and tribulations. But it will also provide us with experiences of triumph and success.
Unlike the Jews traveling through the desert, our travel does not include direct communication with God. What I have today is a new kind of GPS- an acronym I find comforting these days, God Powerful Satellite. We are left with our own devices, our spiritual inclination, our minds, our hearts, to plan our travel and envision our destination..We are left with our Thinking and our Being. With our minds and our emotions. With our analytical side and our “no-thinking side,” the deeper sage of our beings, what some refer to as intuition.
And as we travel with a purpose, we get closer to our destination. One way to realize, appreciate and celebrate the travel is to mark the different places in our journey—as if we had real maps. Place, and give honors to significant milestone in your journey. For me, being in Philadelphia at this time, is one of those “pins” I will place on my own travel, one place to remember along the journey toward the destination. What are your imaginary pins?
Where do you envision your destination? Plan your travel accordingly, knowing and accepting that sometimes you will have to change course.
Going back to the parenting example–if you wish to have close family ties, one way is starting now by creating communication patterns, placing priority on what is the important creates strong permanent bonds.
While I am here, I found myself talking to my daughter and my son-in-law the other day about my parents. If you have not read any of my work before, or heard my talks, let me just share that I love and admire my parents tremendously. I treasure my roots as my foundation to who I am. One of the reasons is that they always put the emphasis on maintaining a close bond among the siblings; my sisters, my brother and myself. Growing up I heard on a weekly basis the sentence, “You all share the same blood, and therefore you are one for another for the rest of your life.” I recall when there was an argument, my parents will encourage us to speak to one another and explore solutions. We would talk, even amidst our pain, to solve the problem.
I remember when my brother got bullied in the neighborhood when he was in elementary school. My sisters and I immediately jumped up and protected our brother. We were a strong and united front.
Until today, even though I’ve been 34 years abroad and away from my siblings in Israel, I feel as strongly about my siblings’ connection.
Raising our kids, my husband and I repeated that concept constantly. I can see the effect of it in our own nuclear family, as our two children on the East coast visit each other, communicating with each other often, and constantly reaching out to their decade-younger brother! They are a team.
It’s the travel that matters. Not the destination.
Where will we be 30 years from now? Who can predict?! Sometimes I wish we had a way of knowing the destination. But when I reflect on it further, I think– what is most important? The destination or the travel?
I invite you to reflect:
- If you were to create a roadmap, where do you place yourself in this journey? What are the things that you are learning along the way?
- Can you think of a lesson that you have learned in the journey that you could share with others? Allow yourself to marvel at the fact that not everything we need to learn should be experienced on us first hand. A surgeon does not have to operate on himself to prove that he can do the surgery. So are we as humans. Learning from other people’s journey is beneficial!
It is not about the destination. It’s the travel that counts!