As some of you know, the vision we set for this crazy trip of ours is to “Shake up our settled hearts and catapult our family into pursuing meaningful and restorative engagement in our world.” I’d have to say this first leg of our trip is off to a pretty good start. If you’ve been following along on our Facebook or Instagram feed, you’ve no doubt seen some of the wonderful adventures we’ve been able to take in. Now, just going on a fun trip is not what we had in mind. That is happening to be sure. We’re having a blast (most of the time), but “fun” was never the vision. “Fun” is just too small of a vision for a trip of this magnitude, and to be honest, it’s too small of a vision for most things in life. Fun is great but it can be like a drug, it gives you a high that, if left unchecked, will leave you only clamoring for the next fix, when really, there is so much depth in the other experiences of your life (good and not so good). We have got to look beyond the fix. Meaningful and restorative engagement is our vision. Learning from and honoring the people we meet along the way and growing in courage as we step into unfamiliar and challenging situations is our vision.
Climbing Volcan Pacaya gave us some of those moments. It was an amazing hike. The views are absolutely stunning! But meeting our guide, Walter, and getting to know his story a bit was part of what made this hike so amazing. Speaking to each other through my broken Spanish and his pretty decent English, we were able to have a pretty cool conversation. Before the hike began we started the usual pleasantry “where are you from” conversation while waiting for one of my boys to get out of el baño. Walter hikes that volcano seven days a week most weeks, and during the peak seasons twice a day-and it shows. His frame is thin, yet fit from the fairly steep, nearly two and a half hour round trip hike over cobblestone, rich soil, and loose volcanic rock. During our conversations along the hike we figured out that we are both Christ-followers. No longer was he just an unassuming, entertaining, and insightful guide, and I, just another traveler from some far off country. We were brothers. I shared some of the snacks I had in my backpack and he shared pictures of his new seven day old son, Moisés, a five year old daughter, and his wife. His family was beautiful. We ended the hike that day with an embrace… new friends and brothers. I hope I get the chance to see Walter again someday and to meet his family.
So Duane, you sold your house and your belongings so you and your family could fly 1600 miles to climb a volcano and meet a guy named Walter? Well… yes. Yes we did. And no…not necessarily. You see, making this connection with Walter just made the climb better. It would have been a great hike with just my family. Watching the wonder on our kid’s faces as they sat on a small concrete hut looking out over an amazingly lush valley with another steaming volcano in the distance, or seeing them walk across the jagged two year old lava to a steam vent where they would roast marshmallows, and hearing them practice a new language, fumbling through asking for a roasting stick in Spanish was priceless. They engaged with people from many other nations on this hike, sharing their story and hearing the stories of others. Gaining a perspective, whether they realize it or not, that we are not the only individuals on this planet. That ultimately, “the hike” through life is not just about the views along the trail but about the people we connect with along the way.
Now does it take you traveling the world to realize this? No, not at all. But, what it does take is RISK.
It’s risky business to connect with people in meaningful ways because it’s messy.
It takes guts. It’s like what an old friend used to say, “putting your heart out on a stick.” It feels very vulnerable.
Here is the problem. We can be so consumed with the safety and stability of our routine and surroundings that we don’t risk venturing out to explore the possible meaningful connections available to us. To get yourself out of that cycle takes a shake up. In the substance abuse world they call it an intervention. People who support and love a person sit around telling them that “the fix” is not their story. Your life is far more valuable and interesting than living for a fix. Do you need a shake up? For us, the “shake up” was selling our house, risking the safety and security of our routine, and taking this trip.
What is going to be your “shake up”? I want to encourage you to stop moving so quickly and just take a moment out of your busyness to figure out what that will be. What it could look like. Then, “buy the ticket” and get on the plane.
Leave us a comment below and tell us what you are going to do to shake things up.
I also wanted to share a film with you that we were able to view last week. It’s called Recycled Life. It has quite a few awards and it is a pretty compelling view. I hope it sparks hope, gives you a little dose of reality, and a desire to affect change in the lives that surround you. You can’t do everything, but you can do something.