I believe in travel…


Born in Savannah, Georgia, and raised in South Carolina, I love the part of the world in which I have lived my entire life.  Every spring I marvel at the glory of the magnificent azaleas, dogwoods and jasmine.  Within a few miles of the house where I live now are enough activities and sites to keep me fascinated for a lifetime. 

I cheer at Saturday afternoon football games with 80,000 other fans in a college football stadium.  I watch the best golfers in the world as they play Amen Corner at the Augusta National.  I have worshiped in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Sunday morning, where a baby being dedicated was lifted up as Kunte Kinte was in Roots, with the pastor saying in a voice that sounded like God, “In this place, we know what a difference one child can make!”  I have rafted down the Chatooga River which divides Georgia and South Carolina.  I have watched the loggerhead hatchlings return to the Atlantic Ocean when I was walking early one morning on Folly Beach, on the coast of South Carolina.  I have eaten mustard-based, ketchup-based and vinegar-based barbeque, all of them local.  I love them all.  I cherish my roots. 

But the point of roots is to sustain a living thriving growing plant.

St. Augustine wrote, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 

I was curious about those other pages, those other foods, those other flowers, other religions, even other sports.  Was my brain or my soul so small that I wanted the rest of my life to be limited only to experiences identical to or similar to those I had already enjoyed?  Intellectually, I knew this was a Big World, but how Big is it, really?  How Big could I be? 

About 25 years ago I set the goal of taking one good trip a year.  I left the definition of “good trip” wide open, but somehow, since then, on a middle class salary and budget, I have kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland, snorkeled off the coast of Puerto Rico, prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, milked cows on a farm in Canada, walked through the rice fields of Bali, watched a bull fight in Spain, climbed Mayan and Incan ruins, witnessed a moon bow on the Isle of Iona (off the coast of Scotland), and celebrated my wife’s 40th birthday in Paris.  I have crawled through deep caves in Kentucky and lived with Gypsies in Romania.  I have been sprinkled reverently by my hosts in Thailand during their Songkran festival.  I have wept at the remains of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp outside of Weimar, Germany.  I have witnessed a pride of nine lions coming out of the bush at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya.  I have participated in a wedding in the Arab suburbs of Brussels, Belgium.

Mohammed said, “Don’t tell me how educated you are.  Tell me how much you traveled.”

Travel has allowed me to spend time with my wife, with each of my two daughters, with my sons-in –law, with my grandson and with friends. 

True traveling is not about frequent flyer miles.  It is not even about tourism.   Bill Bryson laments people who pay “large sums to be transported to some distant place and then shielded from it.”

“Serendipity” is a word first used by Horace Walpole in 1754.  The concept comes from the tales of Three Princes of Serendip (published in 1557).  These three princes set out on various quests, but engaged in unanticipated escapades along the way, adventures that were completely unexpected.  Travelers encounter the unforeseen and are stretched, which is another word for growth.  My physical body stopped getting taller when I was a young adult, but traveling has kept my mind and my spirit developing, expanding, and maturing.

I am a different person because I have traveled.  I see differently.  I listen more attentively.  My taste buds and my sense of smell have developed.  My mind is more elastic and my spirit has been nurtured. 

I believe in travel.


Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Holiday, Quotations, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “I believe in travel…

  1. Amen! I’ve been a convert for ages! )

    On an irreverent note, on a not-too-long-ago trip to Jordan — Petra is a MUST!!! — I remember being taken to the top of Mount Nebo. I imagined I was Moses and pictured myself staring up at the heavens and yelling: “THIS is the Promised Land? For forty years, You’ve had me haul my butt over hell’s half-acre for THIS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I mean, if I was the Almighty, I think I’d have promised someplace in the Caribbean or maybe Tahiti. But two things I know for sure: The Lord moves in mysterious ways — and She sure has a sense of humour. 🙂

  2. I am delighted to know your soul is much like mine. I have touched all corners of the world and feel just as you do. We learn little until we’ve seen, tasted, and enjoyed the beauty of the people and the countries we visit. And sadly we’ve cried at the sorrow and poverty encountered in many cities.

    Traveling provides untold adventures in life which compels us to appreciate what we have even more. We see the WORLD on TV. But only traveling to distant ports provides the opportunity to see the REAL world. It is only then then that we see through the eyes, the hearts and minds of people of all nationalities. And you value life much more fully.

  3. Bob Coleman

    What a great,yet inspirational story Marion, thanks for sharing it

  4. Phala Burleson

    Marion…You’re amazing and I love reading your stories and seeing where you have been and what you have been up to. While I am reading this…I almost feel like I.m there. How awesome is that? Already anticipating your next blog 🙂

  5. Marion, Another marvelous and inspiring blog. I enjoy travel and you have brought to mind several past travel adventures that I need to further reflect upon. Blessings,

  6. Tim

    Marion, so true and I am thankful that my travels have enabled me to build relationships with baptists in Bucharest, attend a service in Moscow and Sofia and sit through prayers in a mosque in Istanbul and be humbled in Haiti. We have been blessed and grown by being bitten by the travel bug.

  7. Orey Gracey

    You write well of travel, for it’s true that travel broadens the mind and increases understanding not only of oneself but of those of other cultures. Getting to know them in their milieu is so eye-opening. When we lived in Germany and visited most of Western Europe we determined to see more of the whole world. Too bad we had to stop short of visiting southern Africa and South America. and had to be content with travel programs on TV. But we did experience China, Japan, Thailand, NZ & Australia, Fiji and every one of the U.S. and much of Canada. We prayed, separately, at the Wailing Wall, walked into Petra, met many Arabian princes in Saudi Arabia, and sailed the Suez Canal and Red Sea.
    There’s much more. Perhaps we can get together sometime, Marion. Orey

  8. Bill Henderson

    Yes, Marion! Wow! I love reading and walking along with you.

    I am just tonight on the way home from a trip…..one close by, New York City! One visit there made me add one dimension to your reflections. It was a visit to the Tenement Museum where we heard the stories of immigrant families who came here, traveling seeking a better life through the last 200 years. They traveled by necessity, by a vision, and by raw courage, somewhat akin to our love of travel, wouldn’t you say? But the courage part….. My, my what a spirit of wanting to live and to achieve a dream. Travel by desperation, I suppose.

    Then I walked the streets and watched a number of broken lives sprawled in the corners and steps of the streets, people who also traveled……. Driven by hopes for some, demons for others, but most went on blindly to these destinations just as needy and as necessary for them as for us, and they arrived, only to be shrunk not stretched.

    Travels have many dimensions and meanings for us all…. Unexpected adventures, indeed!
    Bill Henderson, Aug 5,2013

    • Bill, thanks for your cautionary word. All travel is not the happy or even the voluntary kind. Some people are displaced. I should write about my trip from Allendale to Hilton Head at 5 a.m. on a bus that took the day laborers, maids, etc. Good reminder.

  9. JEarl

    Found it interesting how some in our group to Israel resisted eating a typical Jewish breakfast in favor of familiar eggs and bacon.

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