I’ll never forget the first time I took a “big” trip with my family. We went to Belgium and Paris, to see where my parents had lived before I was born. The experience of other cultures and lands left me hungry for more, desiring to seek out the ends of these new horizons I had just begun to explore.
Crossroads was a different kind of trip. Weaving my way by foot through the back roads of 14 northern US states, I discovered that with each new sunrise, each campsite, each new church community, each friendship formed, my heart wanted to know these things more deeply. The wonder of my breath being taken away every single morning with the dawn of a new morning kept me asking, Why haven’t I felt like this before?
When I journeyed overseas last January, this time for 4 months in a study abroad program, I figured it would be my last chance to fulfill my wanderlust. So I soaked in every moment, traveling everywhere I could and taking each opportunity to learn something new. As I went to castles, concentration camps, and churches, I was filled to the brim in places I didn’t know held a void.
I arrived back to the states, brushed off my hands, and thought Well, that was fun while it lasted. But what I didn’t realize right then was that there were still places and lands that I hadn’t yet explored. Places that were accessible to me within my own country. My possibilities were limitless.
Last Thursday began fall break of Junior year, and I made the decision that I would travel somewhere other than home for my time off. I have two wonderful friends at Notre Dame, so emails were sent, schedules compared, tickets purchased, and off I went.
Once again, my heart and soul were filled.
I attended candlelit night prayer, spoke with seminarians and priests for hours, attended Mass with 25 people and with 1700 people, did homework in an architecture library, went to a party, experienced Notre Dame tailgating and football, and listened to concerts. We walked around campus, exploring libraries and chapels, our feet crunching on the leaf-sprinkled pavement as we delved deeper and deeper into every aspect of our lives. Conversations never faltered, and questions were answered that I didn’t know I asked.
I didn’t go somewhere where I had to know a new language or exchange my currency, but I learned the language of a large school and used the currency of openness. In the best way possible, my eyes were opened to a different way of living and I was astounded at the blessings of this knowledge. Since Thursday, I have gained an appreciation for what I know and what I have yet to learn, of the experiences I’ve already had and those coming in my future.
Traveling gives me the opportunity to explore, not only different parts of the world, but areas within myself, as I interact with others and continue my journey towards self-awareness.
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson