A few days ago, RevGalBlogPals asked the question, "What were five trips that made a difference in your life?" Being, as usual, slightly behind the power curve, I'm answering now.
Well, here goes!
In no particular order:
1. A seminary study trip to Poland, on which we examined Biblical exegesis and how it affects our theology in a very concrete way. We visited the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps and the Treblinka extermination camp. As a contrast, and to learn about Polish culture, we also visited several palaces in Warsaw and toured the castle in Cracow. Every evening we had a debriefing, in which we discussed what we had seen, the contrasts between the history and the present and the terrible, terrible events of the Holocaust. It was a deep conflict for me--see below--between what I knew Germans had done, and the positive experiences I had had with modern Germans. We talked about the shades of grey, and how no one is all good or all bad--whether a nation or a person. We began to understand our role as pastors in fighting anti-Semitism and the link between that and all the other -isms and antis-s and phobias (sexism, homophobia, racism, etc.). It was a powerful ten days, and almost every hour of every day made an indelible impression that I will never forget.
2. Five years spent in Germany, in a wonderful Bavarian city. I came to know another culture from my own intimately and well. I still wax nostalgic over the food, architecture, parks, people, museums, music, festivals and general atmosphere of my adopted German home.
3. A week spent near Los Angeles with dear friends who totally spoiled DP and me--lovely home, refrigerator stocked just for us (all our favourite indulgences), loan of a luxury SUV with GPS system (which came in very handy!), company on a couple of day trips, eager ears on the other nights to hear our adventures, and hot coffee every morning waiting for us when we came downstairs (they're tea drinkers...). It felt like a week in Paradise, and it was a care-free week we needed badly at that point in our lives.
4. A week in Florida caring for my parents (who managed to both be injured at the same time). I had a lot of time away from my usual responsibilities at work, home, and church, and was able to sit and listen to God. God was saying the same thing God had been saying for a long time, but now I had time to hear it--and I responded to that call to ordained ministry. See what Florida will do to you!
5. The move to Canada! The drive itself was a nightmare--flat tire on the car trailer, a 30-foot moving truck jammed full, my car likewise, DP's car on the aforementioned trailer ditto, two cats and a dog, pouring rain on the turnpike, Canadian customs and immigration, unpacking one night and preaching my first sermon the next morning! But it's been an amazing year, and I'm loving what I'm doing!
There. Top five trips of my life--so far! We love to travel and will be doing more. There are so many places we haven't been to yet!