Posted by: pendrops | June 1, 2008

journey graces

Forty-eight hours ago, I stepped off a cramped plane and inhaled the thick Nashville air. Jason and I had spent the previous two weeks traipsing around various European cities and, in Dorothy red-shoe-clicking fashion, I whispered, “There’s no place like home” while lugging travel-worn Vera Bradley carry-ons on my shoulder.

While there were wonderful highlights on this trip, I am the first to admit (with Jason a close second) that I am not the most gracious world traveler. In fact, it doesn’t take much for me to turn into the ugly American, griping about everything from substandard toilets to poor customer service to insane driving to the way people mow you down on the sidewalks.

But rather than throw an entire hemisphere under the bus, I would prefer to spend these few minutes telling you about the extensive graces gifted to me on this journey. Unearned, un-asked-for, unexpected trifles that, when added together, made for a treasure that defined our voyage.

One of those graces came at 1:30 a.m. the night Jason and I flew into Tallinn, Estonia. Our best efforts to plan for transportation hit a kink when our flight to this Eastern European country was delayed by some two hours. We had contacted our hotel about possible taxi service and shuttles, but were still up in the air on how we would get from A to B. And now it was late.

Jason and I clomped our jetlagged legs from plane to customs, doing our damnedest to smile at the scowling agents behind glass windows and look like the perky pictures in our passports. We lumbered to baggage claim where we met our beat-up bags with great relief. Then, as we dragged our hundred-and-some-odd pounds of possessions behind us, we scanned the roadway for available taxis. A crick in my neck made me twist my head and, when I opened my eyes, a little Estonian angel stood before me.

“Jason!” I shouted, “That’s you!” As I pointed, we both made eye contact with the short man holding a sign reading, JASON BARMER.

“That’s me!” Jason repeated, to which our scruffy angel briskly grabbed the roller suitcase from my hand and said, “Follow me.”

We would soon discover these were two of four words our driver knew, the other two being, “No problem.”

Close your eyes, put out your hands: grace, in the form of a vertically challenged Eastern European shuttle driver at 1:30 in the morning.

Another pretty package came the morning I woke up without a voice. Most days, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. I could actually use a day or two where I don’t have to hear my own voice. But this particular day was the day I was singing and leading worship at our friends’ church in Kuressaare. It was about 30 minutes into my silent temper tantrum when the front desk unexpectedly called to tell me I had a massage appointment in 10 minutes.

The 60-minute massage with my non-English-speaking masseuse was one of the best ever, followed by a sauna session where I sweat out more toxins and began to feel my voice come back. After a delightful lunch, a gallon of peppermint herbal tea, and an extended time of prayer with our friends, I picked up a borrowed guitar and sang better and more passionately than I ever have for this charming group of Estonians. (The next day, I really did lose my voice. I’m still working on getting it back.)

Surprise! Grace, in the form of deep acupressure, herbal beverages, friends holding your hand and music.

Smaller, but no less significant graces came, too.

Izzy licking my face
Jason holding my hand
Sleep whenever it would come
Licorice throat lozenges
Chocolate of the darkest sort with ginger essence
Jasmine in the Westminster garden
A pretty pink hat when my hairspray ran out
An empty seat next to us on two flights
St. Mary Abbott’s Church on Kensington High Street
Hyde Park
Randy the flight attendant bringing me hot tea the entire seven-hour trip home

Journey graces are the only thing that got me through the whirlwind two weeks away from quietness, away from familiar comforts, away from clean toilets. But again I say it was a good trip. The trip of a lifetime with our dearest friends and family. A trip we’d take over again.

But sometimes journeys – even exciting, hopeful journeys – are hard. It’s grace that makes them good.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: