Abba Moses said: Sit in your cell and it will teach you everything.
Last week, on a 12-hour driving journey to visit my family, we tested a traveling “sacred schedule” out while camping with our homemade tear drop trailer.
The first day and evening went very well. We traveled about 4 hours and stopped at a lovely campground, where we played at the playground, walked through a field of alfalfa, and had hot showers. The next morning, we made a delicious breakfast and loafed around, chanted the psalms discreetly, and read our “offices”, using prayers from the Carmina Gadelica. (Our son likes to say the last words of each line in the Lord’s Prayer and he asks us to chant the Psalms if we forget.) Slowly, we packed up and pulled out of the campground late morning, with high spirits and contented hearts.
Our plan was to drive about 5 hours to a small city in Saskatchewan, where we would go and have showers at an aquatic centre, give our 2.7 year old son some exercise in the water, put our pjs on and find a place to pull over and sleep.
Enter reality. It turns out our son travels long distances much better in the mornings. We spent a good portion of that afternoon teaching him that intentional loud, shrill screaming, is best not done in the van next to his baby brother’s ears, (not to mention ours!) The deal was that we pulled over, made tea, bounced our baby and sat in our folding chairs on the side of a gravel road, while our eldest sat in the van and deliberated over saying these words: “I won’t scream anymore. Let’s keep driving.” We had a nice tea, and read out loud from the book we’re reading, and after a good while, we finally heard the magic words: “I’m sorry. I won’t scream, mama. Let’s go to Mamna and Papa’s”.
Bill Plotkin has a great book called Nature and the Human Soul, in which he speaks about soulcentric parenting. That is: finding alternatives to teaching either “entitlement” or “obedience”. Finding that “other” option is not as easy as it might sound and can be incredibly counter-intuitive in this culture. And depending on whom you’re speaking to, our “method” might be seen as either “unkind” or “spoiling”.
By the time we got to said town, with said aquatic centre, we realized it was a Friday night, and carnival night to boot. Testosterone was thick in the air with cars and trucks cruising around, looking for… love. The pool’s parking lot was exactly where the zipper ride was screaming, and there was no parking within a mile. It was getting nigh on to bedtime and in the end, it started to rain. We pushed on, and by the end of it, everyone but my husband ended up in tears in our little trailer in some parking lot in a small town, with me trying to change diapers, nurse and put pajamas on in the dark, while Ian tried to find the batteries to our flashlight that fell out when we’d hit a bump somewhere along the journey. Not to mention the mosquitoes!!!
My friend James Finley, who I have recently recorded Sanctuary with, says, “The poverty of the practice is the richness of the practice” (on centering prayer). It is in these times of apparent poverty, we realize it is not about getting it right all the time, but about showing up, in order to see that our merit comes from somewhere that can’t be touched, no matter whether we’ve done it perfectly or not.
We have a “rule” for the road, yes. And we have a practice so our feet have traction, to operate with less impatience and with more love, yes. But in the end, we also have a practice to remind us that we don’t get to do it perfectly.
We will be leaving August 19th for 6 weeks, visiting Albuquerque, San Antonio, and Phoenix and all the way up the West Coast. I have 11 shows, 6 of which are house concerts. We’ve designed the tour so we have many days off between shows and only have to travel 3-4 hours on driving days. That being said, we knew this was not a holiday, but a journey. Now, since we’ve done our practice run, we know it is a Family Pilgrimage. We also know, this is why many folks stick to home routines and only venture out for short, well-funded, holidays. We also know, that this is a tremendous opportunity for us to experience being sustained by God as parents, as partners and as apparent servants.
We may not have a big motorhome (our tear drop trailer is the size of a double bed with a little bunk at our feet), but we have so much. Nevertheless, we will be placed in the symbolic position of being the stranger in a strange land.
I should have known that I couldn’t make an album like Sanctuary, without having to be put through fire of re-knowing transformation, deeper and deeper! (Shucks.) This tour, this pilgrimage, is another conscious way for us to be reminded that God does the work inside of us.
Sanctuary – Exploring the Healing Path with James Finley and Alana Levandoski will be released on September 17th, 2016 – sign up HERE for to receive more information about this and other stuff!