Last Friday I prayed to God for a transporter machine.
Geek science fiction fans will recognize this transporter device from the nineteen-sixties space opera television program, "Star Trek". Imagine a gadget that allows you to travel hundreds, even thousands of miles, in a split second. Boston one moment, Bombay the next. Step on a circular metal plate in the floor. A spandex clad technician pushes a button. Your molecules are disassembled then almost instantly reassembled, whizzing you to the place you want to go. If only travel were thus. Travel heaven. No rushing in a panic to catch a plane. No inching along in wall to wall traffic on the Mass Pike. No wondering if or when the commuter train will finally show up.
Back to last Friday and that desperate hope for a personal transporter. In a fit of calendar chaos and an epic brain cramp, I double booked a funeral and a wedding for the same 24 hour period. YIKES! One was in northern New England. The other was in southern Illinois. Could I actually make it to both commitments?
At 5 am on that epic travel day, I arose, wrote a eulogy, drove 156 miles north to Woodstock, Vermont; prayed some prayers, zoomed back down to Logan Airport to catch the last flight out to Saint Louis, 1,194 miles; landed, picked up a rental car, then journeyed a final 106 miles to Carbondale, all in time to make an early Saturday morning wedding rehearsal. Ten cups of coffee, 20 hours and 1,597 miles later, I made it. WHEW!
I get an upset stomach just remembering those travel travails. Yet that trip also reminded me of what a miracle, in a way, human travel still is in this 21st century. How travel still is wondrous to me: to sit in a long metal tube that sports ungainly oversized wings and then speed along at 511 miles per hour at 30,000 feet, and arrive, without a scratch, in a new place, just hours later. To gas up our car (at two bucks a gallon in some places) and hit the open road and go where our hearts and imaginations take us. To board a bullet train and watch in awe as the scenery flies by at 130 miles per hour. To begin my morning in a sleepy Boston suburb, then stand among the Technicolor leaves of northern New England and finally end that very same day in a small town, at the southern tip of place called the land of Abraham Lincoln.
It's fashionable these days to kvetch and complain about what a hassle it is to get from point "A" to point "B", to travel. Interminable security lines at the airport! Road work on the highways which slow us down! Public transportation which seems to break down just when we need it the most! But for all its hassles, travel is still among the greatest of gifts in modern life.
Travel reminds us that not every one is just like us nor is every place just like our home. Travel makes the world a village, God's diverse Creation beckoning to us: explore, experience, embrace! Travel makes this world a more peaceful community. It's hard to judge or condemn "the other" if we've spent time in their home. The desire to travel is God-given, a restless spirit within us as humans. It moves us to want to check out far corners of existence and then be open to what these locales and peoples might teach us.
So for this week I've got just two travel suggestions. One: always, ALWAYS double check your travel calendar! Two: the next chance you get, grab a map, snag a GPS, book a flight, buy a ticket, and then travel to some part of the globe you've yet to see, you want to see. We may not yet have a transporter machine to get us there, but the journey is half the fun, maybe even more.
See you at the airport. Just look for me. I’m the guy running for the plane.