I just read an email from Uraguay where SK went on a wine tasting tour yesterday. I've never even been on that kind of tour...and SK doesn't drink. In fact, a few years ago when we first instituted sharing communion on Christmas Eve in our own home with real wine, she completely spoiled the moment by taking a swallow and saying, "Euwww!" And I admit, after a single sip I have to take a migraine pill myself. Alcohol really doesn't agree with my temperamental head. But all in all, SK's having the time of her life in South America. Her email made me long to travel. So I thought I'd write about where I'd most like to go:
1. Africa--to anyone who reads my blog, this will come as no surprise. It's a large continent, with a variety of terrains from sandy deserts to lush jungles, so it might be naive to lump it all together, but I think I'd go just about anywhere in Africa, from Kenya to Senegal to Zambia to Zimbabwe (even though there is a war going on there). We sponsor a child in Zimbabwe, and I'd like to meet him someday. His name is Pardon, which is what drew me to him to begin with. Pardon, as in "Pardon me, Africa--for taking your people captive, turning them into living, breathing farm implements; for ignoring your cries and assuming that you needed to become like westerners in order to become like Christ; for not helping enough as you starve or are killed by tribal violence, dictators, all the human-made destruction that has rained on you while you survived drought after drought." Yes, Pardon us is exactly what we need to say to Africa on many levels. But don't think I think of 6 year-old Pardon as merely a symbol simply because his name has meaning to me. No, he is a real boy with a slight frown on his face who works harder as a boy than I've worked as a grown woman. And he's only one of the many reasons Africa is at the top of my list of places to go.
2. India. India was a chief player in Beve's and my relationship 25 years ago, and I'd love to go back with him, to walk those streets of New Dehli, to smell the garbage, see the emaciated cattle picking their way through such heaps of trash, to crowd onto buses that are already stuffed out the doors and windows--you know, the ones with festooned pictures of Hindu gods pasted right above the drivers, along side the signs that say, "NO Teasing allowed" (which means men, keep your hands and everything else to yourselves!) and possible camera robbers plastered in beside us. I'd like to hear the vendors in their tiny shops call out, "Hey bubba, want to buy..." and feel safe among the throngs because I'm with the tallest person in the city. And I'd like to go back to the Taj Mahal where Beve and I stood for our first photo as a couple, and made the choice NOT to buy a star ruby for a ring for me (a decision I've always regretted).
3. Australia. Beve's been there twice, both times playing hoop, and Australia is the one place my dad talked of going in his never-to-be retirement. He dreamed of going to the 2000 Olympic games there, but died three years too soon. I'd like to look up some old YWAM friends in Melbourne and Canberra, to swim on the Great Barrier Reef, to eat some 'barbe', see a Kangaroo, sink into the accent until I can mimic it in my sleep.
4. England. OK, so I've been there a time or two, but the other day I was just talking to a friend about doing a "Jane Austen" tour, and the idea caught hold in my imagination. Back in the 80s, I covered her territory with a friend, but I'd like to do it again, more intentionally. Maybe add the Brontes moors to the trip, as well. I'd take along my Austen-loving daughter, SK, and maybe the other one for good measure, and what a time we'd have together. My mom took her daughters on a Great Britain trip almost a decade ago, and it was lovely (well, apart from the whole Mom aspect!). I think my girls and I would have a great time investigating these haunts, eating fish and chips, having tea every afternoon. Yep, I could really do this.
5. Heaven. "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain," Paul says, and I totally get this. But I have to say, I'm completely curious about what heaven actually is. The only people who have ever described it are ones who (like all of us) have never actually seen it face to face, but in visions and dim mirrors. They describe heaven in terms of earth, describe its riches with earthly images. Streets of gold? Seriously, why would they be more beautiful than the most glorious mountain magesties and the widest of wild oceans? It seems to me that heaven will be nothing if not OTHER, just as God is other. What heaven means is being with Him, in His presence. So it doesn't really matter to me what it looks like, only that He's there and I'm there and His Kingdom is come. That's good enough for me. Yes, I dream of traveling there, of hearing His voice call my real name, and of the moment, the glorious, hoped for, beyond anything I could ask or imagine moment of seeing Him face to face. Finally.