leaving on a jet plane

a sabbatical rest, day 33

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” —Jesus

We’re sitting at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, waiting to board QR 726 to Doha and then onto Kathmandu. Our flight leaves in 4 hours, and it seems like it took a lot of effort to get here.

Today was fairly relaxed, however. Last night our friends Terri and Rob drove us over to a hotel in the west suburbs, where we ordered food on Grubhub. Pad Thai last night. Breakfast tacos and avocado toast for breakfast. And lunch too.

This morning we met the Chicago Metts (Michael, Karina, Elena and Elias) at the Morton Arboretum. Cold, but sunny with no wind. We made snow angels and saw trolls. It was great. But all day I’ve been aware of things I’ll miss while we are in Nepali for 4 and a half months.

Our children and grandchildren, yes. But I’m thinking about the long hot shower this morning, with great water pressure. To find those things, at the same time, is unlikely or rare. And the long hot shower is where I often write. Or at least think about what I’m writing. But a cup of tea will also do.

Katie sometimes asks me if I’m working after I’ve been in the shower a while, and the answer is yes. But the shower is a luxury you don’t think about much. Lots of people in Nepal and even here in the US don’t think about it much either because it is not something they imagine or experience.

Or Grubhub. Or the Lyft XL we took to the airport. Or even the Arboretum, with its admission fees. But these are not the true blessings of the spirit. What we really want are the snow angels. (Or the real angels.) What we long for is protection. And peace. And joy.

And by traveling, and noticing, we have seen very poor people with all those things. Certainly, some economic security is a blessing to all, and we should work to make it available, especially for the vulnerable and disadvantaged. But we can and should note and celebrate the spiritual blessings we have, sharing them freely with others.

These include forgiveness and compassion, hospitality and generosity, freedom and dignity. These are things we crave. And things we can give. It is for these things we travel to Nepal, both to give and to receive, according to the manifold graces of God.

I’m going to miss a long hot shower whenever I want one. But I’m hoping not to be so focused on the things I don’t have that I fail to rejoice in the bounty that surrounds me: the kindness of strangers, the security of a good marriage, the faithfulness of praying friends, the optimism of rising youth in an unstable country, the curiosity of a student in my class, or the smile of child.

These are blessings that matter, reserved for the poor in spirit.

I want to learn about that.

2 thoughts on “leaving on a jet plane”

  1. Congratulations on being en route to the other side of the world! Please tell the Mrs. that I will be specifically praying for you both on Wednesday’s.

  2. Wally, Ever since experiencing a couple weeks in Mexico without a shower back in 1975, I have never taken a warm shower for granted! Blessings, Dan

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