I leave for El Salvador on Thursday. While excited about this new adventure, I am now caught up in all my preparations for the journey. I have my checklist of items to bring: warm weather clothes and sunscreen (Eat your hearts out you cold West Des Moiners.); Passport and ID (Why do the pictures make you look so old?); and various toiletries and medications (Including Imodium I pray I will not have to use!).
The adventure starts with my arrival at the airport at 3:45 in the morning before even God wakes up. Priscilla Eppinger and I fly first to one foreign country, Houston, Texas, and then to El Salvador. By Thursday afternoon we will be in country.
I have the typical worries for such a journey. How uncomfortable will I be without the normal luxuries of life here in the States? I do love my hot showers and pizza. I will miss most my home, my dogs, and my wife Teresa. Not necessarily in that order. I am anxious about being in a place where I do not know the people, language, and the culture. I will be totally reliant on the kindness of strangers. All these concerns are natural as I begin this trip to El Salvador.
I do have a worry that I might be expecting too much from the trip. As many of you already know and have heard me tell stories, over 25 years ago while in seminary, I traveled to Central America on a study trip including El Salvador. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life and did more than any thing else to shape my theology and understanding of God’s Mission. At the time El Salvador was in the midst of a revolution, and this kid from the suburbs of Dallas entered a world he had never knew existed. I encountered God meeting and listening to people share their suffering and their struggles. I saw Christ in the leader of a Human Rights Office who risked his life to monitor abuses of death squads. I met Priests who strived to create a more just and peaceful society by being in solidarity with poor communities. It was a life changing and spiritually enlivening experience.
It will be interesting to see El Salvador after the revolution and how reconciliation has or has not happened. But most of all, I am seeking a spiritual retreat where I might encounter God’s Spirit again among the people of El Salvador. For me, El Salvador will always be a “Thin Place”, a Celtic Christian term for where the distance between heaven and earth collapses. I am going on a pilgrimage of sorts. I do not want my expectations to get in the way and worry that they might. Every pilgrimage begins with letting go. I am trying to do that.
Priscilla and I will strive to post in this blog as frequently as we are able depending on time and WiFi access. We ask for your prayers on our spiritual pilgrimage.