Last night as I was finishing packing my six year old son Connor came to me with a look of concern in his face. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “Dad, I want you to go to Amazon and order a parachute in case your plane is going to crash so you can jump off.” I picked him up and we talked about his worries. Connor is a worrier. His twin brother Riley is the opposite, not a care in the world. Connor must have been worrying about the plane going down for some time and that was the best solution to save his dad that he could think of. Go to amazon.com and order a parachute. I love it.
In the car on the way to KCI this morning my wife Dawn said to me, “I’m so happy for you, for all that you will see and for the impact this trip will have on you.” I realized in that moment that I have not considered the actual experience of this pilgrimage or the impact it will have on me and our cohort. Most of my energy has been spent on preparations for the trip instead of on looking forward to the trip itself. It is not hard to see where Connor gets it from.
Perhaps, like the rest of my cohort, the business of life has kept me numb to the possibilities that lay in wait for us. We have been given the tools and provided the chance to dig deep into a culture that will be new to us, but soon will be a home for us. A temporary home to be sure in the physical sense, but home none the less. And besides, once we have walked our walk and learned our fill and witnessed these wonders and built the kind of relationships that change people in their core, can it ever be left behind?
I think not.
It is our duty to leave the business of life behind and be fully present in each moment and movement of this experience. Our worries and burdens and stresses should be left behind. But that is not always easy to do in our culture where you go until you drop. I know I have been buried in the details and deadlines and as such I have missed something necessary … calm and quiet. I’m packed; I even remembered to get the 220 plug adaptors. I’m ready to travel, but I have not made myself ready to be a pilgrim.
There is plenty of calm and quiet right now. The lights are off and the cabin of this Boeing 777 is dark, dark like a hotel room at midnight with the only light coming from the from under the door from the hallway. Most of the people around me are a asleep. There are nine hours left before we arrive in Tokyo and in this soothingly dark place my burdens are ebbing away. I have not checked my email, updated my Facebook, or concerned myself with anything but the mission at hand. I am here; I am open to all that this adventure brings. The business of life is on another continent, literally a world away.
I’m ready … calm and quiet. Here and now, I am no longer planning to be a pilgrim, I am one.
My name is Thawng Hnin Zam. I come from Chin State in the most western part of Myanmar, near the border with India. Presently, I am serving as the Principal of the Union Theological College, a member of the Association for Theological Education in South East Asia. I received a B.Th. degree in Madras, India, as well as a B.D. (Bachelors of Divinity) from Serampore University, also in India.