I don’t remember when I was first bitten by the travel bug. Travel has always been a part of my life since I can remember. My childhood is filled with memories of beaches, mountain foliage, stars and winter snow, as I stared out the window on countless road trips. As a child and teenager travel was something exciting. I looked forward to each summer, knowing that soon we would be on route to some new state or part of the country. As I got older, I started to look at my travels with something more than just excitement and wonder.
When I was in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, my housemates and I would travel hours to see the other communities in our region. From Chicago we visited Milwaukee, Nashville, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, and New Orleans. From Phoenix we made our way to Los Angeles, Tucson, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco. All these miles quickly turned to memories that still continue to form my heart. My time traveling with my housemates, consciously visiting people that had been strangers mere months ago, showed me the true value of travel: Community.
I’ve realized that travel has more to do with the people we meet and grow to love than the places we have been. I couldn’t tell you the names of the places I ate, drank, or visited, but names and faces burn bright in my mind. I’ve always cared about people. If I had the ability I would make sure that every person felt loved, cared for, and knew their worth. Despite where they live, or what their life has been like, they deserve to be treated like they truly are the image of God reflected in the world.
In my short, yet rather nomadic adulthood, I have had the opportunity to do just that. I have worked to spread God’s love and compassion to those all around the world. I stopped being concerned with what and where I would get to see and focused on who would touch my heart.
I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite prayers, attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (maybe I’ll make another appearance and discuss his influence):
“Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in Love, and it will decide everything.”
And isn’t that why I signed up for these experiences to begin with? To leave the comfort of the known and fall in love with something that drives all of my being and makes each day a gift. I don’t know where I am going from here, but God has blessed me with the gift of a missionary spirit. It would be a shame to waste a gift, right?
Krystle P. (Houston, Texas) – I spend my days walking with High School girls in their journey of faith. My family and friends mean the world to me. God Bless Texas.