Luke 9 records more wise teaching by Jesus, “He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal and he said to them, Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there.” I met a man at a foodbank this morning who went on a summer trip in his van with his wife. They decided to go through New Brunswick, down through Maine, and stop wherever it felt like home. And so they did.
Taking a trip and stopping wherever the roads take you and receiving the hospitality of those present seems like a risky and problematic way to travel. Most of us, myself included, plan every detail of the trip. We worry we will miss something, get caught in a place we don’t want to be, end up paying more than we should. But what if we did as Jesus taught, just drove and stopped where it felt right. What if we explored that community, asked whomever we met, and went with him/her where they took us? Imagine the adventures! Imagine the stories.
This man entered up in Bangor with a rude surprise. The money that the government sends to his account did not arrive. So there he and his wife were, no income, stuck in Bangor. So they ventured out to a recovery meeting, he is a member of a recovery group, and there they met folks who offered them a place to stay, meals and a tour of the community. The couple decided to go wherever the Spirit led, and they met the most interesting people, did the most interesting things. Their hosts enjoyed meeting people from “away” and sharing in common experiences.
In the end this couple left Bangor with a car load of food, full bellies and a litany of stories they could tell to family and friends.
I wonder if I could do that. Would I be able to enter a town with nothing and rely on the kindness of strangers? I don’t know. And what would prevent this? Is it pride, embarrassment for asking for help or the lack of control in not being able to select what I want, worried I would be bored and missing out.
I remember Mitt Romney was asked how hard it was for him to run for President in 2008 and 2012 and the abuse he took for the mistakes he made. He said then that nothing that happened in those campaigns came close to being as difficult as being a Mormon missionary in Paris, France in his early 20’s. Romney would go door to door, day after day, encountering either ridicule or outright hostility. He says the experience built character in him and also trust that somewhere, someone would be there to welcome and care for him.
I doubt this will be our family vacation plans for 2017. But maybe one day…