We will be at a chaplain’s convention when you all are answering the Friday Five Questions. I’ll look forward to reading your answers next week when I get home. At the moment we are trying to get the car loaded so we can hit the road, so this will be a simple F.F. This running around madly in order to leave has me wondering: what are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?
This is fun for me, since I’m traveling next week for work. So, here we go…
- My prayer shawl – Several years ago, I was having a number of medical issues at the same time, and a dear friend who I knew only online sent me a handmade prayer shawl from her church’s prayer shawl ministry. It was a pretty light yellow shawl, soft and cuddly, and I kept it on my chair in the living room and snuggled with it every day. My then-husband thought it was an ugly color, though, and didn’t want it in the living room, so it moved to my closet, where I would look at it longingly and stroke it tenderly whenever I was getting out clothes for the morning. About a year later, my daughter was having two different operations on her back (de-tethering her spinal cord, and then a spinal fusion), and our parish brought her and me each a prayer shawl at the hospital. Becca’s is light green with fringe of yellow and pink and orange. Mine is a light purple with matching fringe. Both are as soft and cuddly as the yellow one, and when one of them rests on your cheek, you can feel the prayers that were poured into each stitch. About the time I made the very difficult decision to separate from my ex, I took to sleeping snuggled up in my purple prayer shawl. Later, when I became involved with maplestar, he would sound wistful when I told him about this, so I surprised him by sending him the yellow prayer shawl. He also knew the lady who had sent it to me, and we would both sleep at night, snuggled up in our prayer shawls, wrapped in the prayers of those who had made them and of all who had touched them, warmed in each other’s love. So when I travel away from home, I always bring my purple prayer shawl to snuggle with.
- Stationery and greeting cards – It’s become a kind of tradition between maplestar and me, that when we’re traveling, we try to write to each other every day of the trip, you know, with actual paper and pens. I try to get a letter into a card and into the mail to him each day, but I don’t always succeed in this. He usually collects his together and sends them all at once.
- My Book of Common Prayer – I usually try to pray at least one of the offices from the BCP each day I’m on travel. I like it best when I bring my BCP/Hymnal combo book, because if I’m kind of “Ehn!” on prayer for the day, I’ll sing a hymn or two that just feel right for the day.
- Books!!! – Of course I bring the book I’m currently reading, and a backup, in case I’m close to finishing that one. I never know if I’m going to have a lot of time in the hotel room or not, or if I’m going to have trouble sleeping, so I always bring at least one book with me. I might also bring a word puzzle or sudoku book, and usually bring at least one poetry book. Sometimes the day really needs poetry to express itself, especially when I’m far from home.
- A spirit of adventure – It doesn’t matter where I’m going or why I’m going there, the most important thing for me to “pack” is a spirit of excitement, adventure, fun, play. I may be traveling to an absolute armpit to sit in meetings for three days straight, but there are still new and interesting and unique things in that armpit that I’ve never seen before. Even armpits are part of God’s creation; even armpits are somebody’s home, beautiful and beloved. And if I keep my eyes open, looking for the beauty in the place I am, I know I can find it.
So, my beloved friends, I wish you peace on your travels, whether they are of body or of mind or of heart. May God light the path before you, may Jesus be your companion on the way, and may the Holy Spirit give you comfort when you reach your journey’s end. May you find joy in your destination, beauty in all your surroundings, and peace when you return to your heart’s home.