2022 included a number of travels, along with many twists and turns, some as alarming as the hairpin bends of the Klipspringer Pass in Karoo National Park (above) in South Africa.
My first and memorable adventure was a trip with 3 friends to the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. We enjoyed the scenery, hiked in the ‘mountains’ (they were no more than little hills!) and stayed out of the icy water. Superior is the largest, deepest and coldest lake in the U.S. Our journey included enriching conversations with different perspectives because we were an international group—American, Taiwanese, Chinese and South African. We jokingly named ourselves “Superior Women.” I think we were.
In October I visited friends and family in South Africa and added to my adventures. One of them helped me understand the meaning of traveling mercies (TM). My brother, Peter and I were travelling from Karoo National Park to Tankwa Park, both in the Western Cape in semi-desert, sparsely populated areas. We journeyed on rugged dirt roads, rarely passing through a town or seeing another person. As we neared a small town and finally a paved road, we discovered we had a puncture! (See picture below). Unfortunately, the spanner (wrench) didn’t fit the nuts (bolts) on the tire. Since there was minimal cell reception, calling for help was next to impossible. But I learned about traveling mercies.
TM 1: We weren’t too far from the only town we’d come to in hours.
TM 2: I finally flagged down a driver who offered to return to the town to get help since his spanner didn’t fit. We waited and waited and, getting desperate (think panicky), I flagged down another driver.
TM 3: His spanner worked, and the 1st driver returned. The two men knew each other and were able to help Pete fit the spare. Since the spare wasn’t designed for dirt roads we needed a new tire.
TM 4: There was only one tire shop in that very small town. It barely had a dozen new tires and, amazingly, one of them was exactly what we needed. We got the tire changed and continued our journey, arriving later than we’d hoped and dead tired. But it was worth it. I learned that travelling mercies doesn’t mean a stress-free, no-bad-incident trip. It means there will be angels to help when bad things happen.
We arrived at sunset, and I was in awe at the amazing colors in the desert. The picture in the middle barely does it justice. Our cottage (on the right) was delightful, even luxurious with our private pool. Other cottages were hidden behind hills, so we were alone. It was peaceful and quiet.
Back in Kwa Zulu Natal, and another adventure. This time to Giants Castle in the Drakensberg Mountains. The adventure was being turned away from the entrance by a protesting ‘mob’ (only a handful of people, but with power to send us away). Since the resort was able to resolve things with the protestors, we returned the next day for 2 days taking in the mountain scenery, long strenuous hikes, enjoying the many wildflowers (the picture is of a protea, SA’s national flower), and of course many birds, some I’d never seen before. The inevitable baboon was there and even tried to steal food in our cottage. They were out of luck!
I continue to enjoy and learn from writing daily devotions for Advent and Lent. Advent this year was on members of Jesus’ family tree. My journey with Jesus’ ancestors was both surprising (including women who stood up for themselves; Leah the unloved who told her story in the names she gave her first 4 sons) and affirming (the wideness of God’s mercy even for the most despicable Manasseh; the faithful holiness of Josiah). You can read them at: https://www.storymakerlife.com/advent-2022. Scroll down to get to the beginning. I’m already thinking about Lent 2023 and plan to journey through Matthew’s Gospel, spending a couple weeks with the Beatitudes. You can check it out on my website when Lent begins in February.
Lectio divina gone virtual continues on Zoom and remains a source of surprise and enrichment as a group from around the States and around the world, of varying ages and theological positions prayerfully reflects on a biblical text, unafraid to ask hard questions and say challenging words. Our zoom gathering meets twice a month has become for us a field beyond ideas of right and wrongdoing as we grapple with our love for and relationships with God and those around us. If you would like to join us, please let me know and I’ll send you the information. Our first gathering in 2023 is on Wednesday, January 11.