Welcome! This blog celebrates both the local and the catholic -- that is, universal -- aspects of the Roman Catholic Church by sharing reflections on experiences of the Church in a variety of settings and cultures. Postings will come from around the world and around the corner. You don't have to be a Catholic to come along.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Pause That Refreshes

By Brian Doyle
Guest Blogger

Because of a friend’s generous offer, I now receive his Travel + Leisure Magazine. I know why he has rid himself of it.

It is almost painful to leaf through the pages-popping images of exotic places and people, food and romance, perfection in a bottle and in the form of pillows -- the pages are intoxicating for the homebound and world traveler alike: dreams of places that beg to be tasted, smelled, enveloped, but will more than likely be forlorned.

It becomes difficult to know others are globe-skipping while the fish sticks are burning and the 2-year-old has just emptied yet another grape juice container onto the carpet.

And yet, it reminds me of how artificial travel can be; or at least, perceived.

The “stuff” of travel for me has never been the longing for precision combed beaches, flourishes of rainbows and olfactory hallucinations on a plate, or the luxury of 10,000 count satin sheets adorned by flown-in chocolates from the Garden of Eden.

The “stuff” of travel, for me, has always been spiritual, basic, primal. Good travel, real travel, transforms a person. The “stuff” is made up of pauses, wonder, humility, the oft misunderstood virtue of “the fear of the Lord,” and finality. Ultimately, travel reminds us of our human frailty and beauty at the same time, bound together in a weave so tight that they constitute an inseparable tapestry. We are not home, but a mere passer through.

The authentic traveler asks the question both rhetorically and practically, “Why am I here?” All travel, in the end, is pilgrimage.

When the good Doctor kindly asked me if I would consider being a guest blogger, I first started filing through the cabinet of my brain, thinking back on my time in which I met the saints of Liseux, Dachau, Rome, Calcutta; and some of the sidewalks I’ve crossed in the Serengeti, Capri, Cairo, Cebu. And yet, when I got down to remembering the places, faces, smells and tears, it was the singular experience of pause that came to do just that: give me pause.

Travel is always a privilege, and for all of us, an opportunity to receive pause --quiet, solitudinal, reflectional time and space, even in the midst of chaos and crowded piazzas, that brings one back to the most simple and difficult of truths: that there is a God and I am not He.

So, as I continue to stand along the sidewalk, participating from the sideline in reading these pages that the good Doctor puts to “blog”, I cherish the opportunity to take a few minutes and give pause: pause to travel, pause to pilgrimage, pause to breathe, pause to . . . pause.

Brian Doyle, whose feet are shown above in the Ring of Kerry, Ireland, is associate director of the Stewardship Department of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Opinions expressed here are his own and not those of the Archdiocese.

1 comment:

  1. Beware of generous friends; they're always looking to empty their mailboxes!