Travelling brings a great opportunity for spiritual and psychological growth. I have kept a journal since age 12 and it has taught me so much about who I am and how I fit into the world I am part of. And even now at 36, I find myself writing to express, welcome and understand new experiences. But perhaps most importantly, writing taught me to say ‘no’ and set boundaries in relationships. As a consequence I think I became a more truthful person and came to value the same in others.
One of the difficulties of entering a new environment is that it takes away confidence. Suddenly, things are simply unfamiliar and it can be too overwhelming, almost impossible to bear. It is clear that this can be a real obstacle to enjoying the travel and learning new things. Not to mention that a clear mind is the best way to keep track of time, to keep communication going and also, to make sure you get the right change.
Noticing and acknowledging when things get too much is the first step in finding peace and restoring balance. But I also suggest getting back to the situation sometime soon and understanding more about the factors that lead to this. In the end, everything is a learning experience.
Pen and paper therapy
Many research studies acknowledge the psychological benefits of writing. In our hi tech world it can be hard to keep track of reality and our human experiences. It’s good to be human and to have emotions, to be aware of them and to understand what they are telling us. In theology class I learned that under those surface emotions and passionate desires, there lies deeper more silent movements and they can help a lot in discerning the direction of our lives.
How poverty teaches to listen
It is a fact that traveling requires a certain degree of poverty. We cannot take all the comforts of home along, the familiar bed, the comfy clothes… and yet we learn to look beyond those things. To look at what brings us here. What a great skill for a spiritual life: it takes so much humility to welcome change.
Besides writing, talking is also so good at making sense of what’s going on. It’s so important to have at least a few good friends in life, who we know will listen. The suicide statistics speak to me about how lonely our world is, despite the increasing population the ‘human factor’ continues to give us fear of trusting whole heartedly. Despite all, don’t be afraid, just grow.
My testimony about listening
As I write, pray and listen over the years of my life, I also began to discover other desires in my heart. I was raised as a traditional Roman Catholic, which in Lithuania usually means believing but not really practicing. It is very similar in Australia for the most people. I began to understand and desire more in my spiritual life especially after meeting with the sisters of Bethlehem (www.bethlehem.org). Stay tuned as I will be visiting them in about a month and will blog more about their lifestyle and faith.
It’s a life of solitude and silence, but a silence filled with works of art, blessings and activity – not a boring silence as it may appear. In this silence one learns to observe and engage with life through the eyes of love. Here in Australia I was not able to find such a place of refuge and joy but in one place: the Orthodox Church. The depth in tradition that it transports us to a whole other level of being – where we can know and be known without the need of many words. My heart became attached in this faith and lifestyle in a matter of months. As I learn more about this tradition, I also experience greater joy. From this I gather:
Time and place constraints, such as having a full-time job or an illness that doesn’t let us do what we like, doesn’t actually hinder the spiritual journey but it gives it wings!
I have been working in aged care as a PCA for almost over a year now and I can see that there are certain people who are old, possibly very sick but they radiate love and goodness. They are attractive for being loving. I don’t think this means that they were never hurt or didn’t experience injustice. I think they were but they overcame those difficulties by gaining awareness and discovering a desire to spread love not hate. It has been the biggest lesson that my job and interactions with elderly has taught me.