for the traveler
My friend Niki gave me a card when I left Minneapolis for Seoul back in April. In it, she wrote one of John O’Donohue’s blessings – this one was for the traveler. I read it for the first time on the plane ride, and I’ve reread it a few times over the past two months. Take this poem, read it before you go, once you return, and every time you need a reminder of why you travel in the first place. And I’ll see you when I’m back from Malaysia. (p.s. HBNT)
Every time you leave home,
another road takes you
into a world you were never in.
New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
will pretend nothing
changed since your last visit.
When you travel, you find yourself
alone in a different way, more attentive now
to the self you bring along,
your more subtle eye watching
you abroad; and how what meets you
touches that part of the heart
that lies low at home:
how you unexpectedly attune
to the timbre in some voice,
opening a conversation
you want to take in to where your longing
has pressed hard enough
inward, on some unsaid dark,
to create a crystal of insight
you could not have known – you needed –
to illuminate – your way.
When you travel – a new silence –
goes with you – and if you listen,
you will hear – what your heart would love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
make sure, before you go, to take the time
to bless your going forth
to free your heart of ballast
so that the compass of your soul
might direct you toward the territories of spirit
where you will discover
more of your hidden life
and the urgencies that deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
gathered wisely into your inner ground;
that you may not waste the invitations
which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
and live your time away to its fullest;
return home more enriched, and free
to balance the gift of days which call you.