By the time I was two years old, I had flown 100,000 miles. With whispy blonde curls and a tiny pink jacket, I held my tattered blanket close and sucked my two middle fingers while my daddy sat nearby, the two of us flying standby to wherever we wanted on one of his airplanes—the perk of being a flight attendant.
My parents fell in love in the precious hours between shifts at America West where they worked the ticketing counter and navigated a 20,000-foot airborne beverage cart. They fell in love with the promise that they were going to go places together… a promise that lived in quiet hope as they scrounged by on airline salaries and I flew my first 100,000 miles. Their promise and those miles sunk in deep for me. Maybe that is how I first learned that I was made to go places.
23 years later, on the eve of New Year’s hopes and resolutions, I am here to tell you the story of what it means to go places, what it means when you choose to be a traveller.
I have learned that a traveller cannot fully settle. She knows moments of rest and savors seasons of just being… but right on the edge of that being, there is the more. And it is always creeping into the infinite dreaming space of the traveller’s mind, beckoning her hope.
The traveller asks, “What is next?” The traveller ponders, “What if?” And the traveller finds herself inextricably drawn to fellow sojourners, despite the fact that they are notoriously difficult to pin down. She craves their company because she sees that they too feel the more inside of them; they also suffer from the tension of feeling worn and wanting rest yet craving adventure. The traveller looks for these others, because they tell her, “What you believe to be real echoes in the faith of my heart… let us seek it out together!”
In her journey, the traveller discovers beauties and dangers, both in the world and in herself. The beauty fills and inspires her, giving her purpose. The danger thrills her and terrifies her. And the space where beauty and danger intertwine leaves the traveler fractured, needy, and wholly alive.
Travelling means discontent. It means recklessly drinking in a sinking tangerine sunset, an intimate dinner with friends, a star-lit kiss, a haunting aria or a misty walk on a cobblestone road, even though that joy must eventually end. Travelling is a choice to not encamp in the shell of a memory, but to boldly step forward in anticipation of new joys.
That choice is difficult. Sometimes it asks more of me than I think I am willing to give, and I slough off my pack, gather some sticks, and start to build a hovel. And as I build my hovel, I say things like, “This is good enough. I don’t really want to find my longing anyway. I am just so tired. I can’t keep looking for something that isn’t there. What I think I want is too risky.” And I pacify the more inside of me by saying to myself, I’ll take a vacation to some place grand sometime soon.
Jesus talks about a kingdom. This kingdom, he tells us, is not a place but rather a personal commitment to align with a king, The King. And this allegiance means awaiting a homeland we haven’t reached yet. We’re called to be travelers; we’re called to believe in the more inside of us and to chase after it. That more is the undeniable evidence of our Father’s kingdom, and it is embedded in our very souls.
I don’t know what you have resolved for the coming year… I have resolved to keep traveling.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 24 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day. For now, she is honored to be a part of Red Tent Living.