From time to time, we love to share great reads we’ve found elsewhere. Often times they’re amazing tips and tricks to really take advantage of a great deal. Sometimes they’re just quirky articles that highlight the WTF of travel. But sometimes, it feels like beautiful travel prose finds us left and right. This is one of those weeks. These articles stirred our imaginations. They made us restless with the biggest questions in life. And they brought a few tears to our eyes. In the midst of your busy life, you’d do well to take 5-10 minutes to really soak these articles up, that much I am sure of. 

Thin Places

I had never heard of “thin places” before, but a reader shared this article with me, and I’ve been pondering my own exploration of thin places. What are these spaces? The author describes it as “those rare locales where the distance between heaven and Earth collapses” and instantly, I was moved to think of my own exploration of thin places. Two awe filled nights in Queenstown, listening to the captivating notes on a piano from Mathias the Piano Man certainly came to mind. It wasn’t just relaxing, it was something more. Amidst so much change and uncertainty in my life at that moment, I felt clarity in the goodness of my own voice, and my own path. And it came through the music of this man.

Call me foolish, but music can change the world. It sure changed mine one magical day in December 2013.

Call me foolish, but music can change the world. It sure changed mine one magical day in December 2013.

I instantly thought of this tiny town in El Salvador, Suchitoto, and the time I spent at the Centro Arte para la Paz with Sister Peggie O’Neill. Again, a place where earth and heaven felt so close, amidst a backdrop of a country that has suffered unspeakable pain and suffering first through a horrendous civil war and now through seemingly endless gang violence. I reflected a lot that trip on the wise words from Henri Nouwen in Gracias: A Latin American Journey:

One example of this rediscovery of traditional values is the renewed understanding of humility. In the spirituality of the past there was little place for conflict; but anyone who really becomes involved in the daily lives and struggles of the poor cannot avoid moments and periods of conflict. Experiences of abandonment, despair, and deep anguish can enter into the spiritual life itself. It can even lead to a struggle and confrontation with God, who does not seem to make his presence known. Thus a spirituality marked by the struggle for liberation can lead to an experience of deep darkness, which will require true humility. It is this humility that enables us to continue in the struggle, even when we see little progress, to be faithful even when we experience only darkness, to stay with the people even when we ourselves feel abandoned.” 

Journaling after a conversation at Centro del Arte y Paz with Sister Peggie O’Neill. Photo credit: Joaquin Loustau

And so what are the thin places you’ve been, and the ones you want to visit? If you haven’t thought of it yet, one read of this beautiful article will get you thinking about it, and probably like me, convinced it’s time to buy the author’s book Man Seeks God.

Life is a Gift

Late at night, well late by my new standards of life having an infant in the house (so 9 pm) I found myself browsing the travel section of FlipBoard. I am not sure this has anything really to do with travel, but I found myself, awash amidst tears, caring less if it matched the theme I was searching that night or not. The premise of this powerful photo essay and article is this: What would you do if both of your parents were battling stage four cancer, at the same time? Nancy Borowick’s photo essay is an incredible testimony to the beauty and trials of life.

Photo from Nancy Borowick on the National Geographic. The photos are moving, the article just as compelling.

“Life is a gift, and no one promised me longevity” her father once said, and the line has been running through my head all morning. Greeting my son, going on my morning run, with the new-found intentionality I greeted people walking by me today. Life is a gift. Life is a gift. And no one promised me longevity.

Coping With a Friend’s Death

In the travel blog space, Nomadic Matt is simply the man. He’s been at it for years, and I’ve loved reading his blog posts. Lately though, he’s been off a bit, but in a refreshing “you’re human kind of way.” Don’t get me wrong, no one likes to see someone out of sync, unless it’s the kind of out of sync where you know big questions are being asked under the surface. Over the last few months, I’ve sensed that with his posts, and he’s revealed as much here and there. Then today, he shared some truly heartbreaking news: A Friend of his, only a year older than I am, passed away in a tragic accident while traveling.  And his homage to his friend, along with his reflection on what it awakened in him, is simply beautiful.

What it’s all about

Travel is fun. It’s cultural. It’s great when it’s done on the cheap. But it’s also sacred and profound. And I think sometimes in the hustle and bustle of it all, we can lose sight of that. A world of thin places awaits, just hoping to entice us to make the rest of the world around us a little more thin. A couple whose world got turned upside down takes a moment to vacation, knowing that for couples and families, such unique experiences maintain the strength of our relationships. And those people in our lives who seem to live by the phrase “This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often” remind us that very rarely in life, when we reach a big moment, will we ever say “I wish I would have skipped that experience and just watched Netflix.”

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