Natalie and I have been road-tripping with our thirteen month old son for the last couple of weeks. We’ve been thoroughly blessed to have caught up with a remarkable number of dear friends and family.
But we’ve noticed more than ever before how our pattern of road-tripping is characterised by indulgence (of ourselves, and now our son) to compensate for the very real discomforts of the journey.
It seems like hard work trying to make sure we stay awake — and our child sleeps (or at least stays quiet) — at all the right times.
We’re forced to ‘make do’ with whatever goods and services are available wherever we find ourselves — no matter how average the coffee or how apparently unlikely the food is to appeal to a one year old.
But we get to be surprisingly indulged at the same time.
We’ve eaten far too many burgers. Our son has enjoyed his first single-serving sachets of sweetened yoghurt. And somehow we’ve managed to find some very decent coffee outside the major cities. All of us, including our son, seem to have put on weight!
And we get to experience some gratuitous freedoms too. For one thing, not only are we not doing any of the things we probably should be doing (cleaning the house, answering emails, etc) but we’re also not able to do any of that stuff.
As a result of this gift of time, we inevitably have our best conversations.
The whole experience has made us reflect on what it might be like for people who are always passing through by necessity — asylum seekers, migrants, temporary residents. Which is the experience the New Testament tells us should be the pattern for Christians too: we are aliens and exiles, according to the Apostle Peter.
People on such journeys are forced to ‘make do’ in much more extreme situations and discomfort all the time.
And yet perhaps that doesn’t have to mean that life is therefore reduced to a matter of mere survival and desperation (although even our road trip had moments of those!).
Here’s hoping our road trip has helped us appreciate a little better the complexities and compensations of passing through.