This spring, my spouse Charlie and I traveled to the Southwest. The main reason for the trip was to see our son Luke, currently living in Arizona, but we stopped first in New Mexico—a state neither of us had ever been to before. We had a wonderful time, and we thoroughly enjoyed the shifts in perspective that emerge from being in a new environment.
We rented a car for this first part of our journey. When it came time to move on to Arizona, we drove from Alburquerque to Phoenix. This was an unexpectedly gorgeous part of our experience, with topography that ranged from vast expanses of red rock to petrified forests to saguaro cacti, and a variety of weather conditions throughout the six-hour trip (even some snow at the higher elevations!).
What the drive did not include was regular opportunities to eat. Being used to the Interstate Highway System with its predictable rest stops, we assumed that we would have ample access to lunch. No such luck. Hungry and cranky, our need to get gas eventually forced us off our prescribed route and onto a small road winding through the landscape of northeastern Arizona.
We finally found a small gas station. And attached to the payment kiosk was a storefront selling Mexican food. It wasn’t a chain restaurant, and it wasn’t recommended on any sites, but at that point neither of us cared. Charlie ordered tacos. I got a burrito. We are not connoisseurs and it probably helped that we were famished, but this tiny, nondescript shack in the middle of nowhere produced the best Mexican food we have ever eaten!
Traveling somewhere new is the most obvious type of adventure, but here are many ways to sojourn. Intentionally chosen or not, the process of seeing things differently takes many forms, and there are poems and songs and narratives of all sorts about the joys that emerge from engaging the unexpected. The Gospel encourages this, too: again and again, Jesus asks people to move and to change; sometimes internally, sometimes externally, often both. And then—surprise!—we are sustained.