I’ve been traveling this past week, hence this one lonely blog post. Back to my regular blogging schedule next week!
One of the reasons I love traveling is because people who travel are, generally, curious. They ask questions. They strike up questions in elevators. I’ve lost count of the times in hotel lobbies and at museums that someone standing beside me has asked “Where are you from?” or “What brings you here?”
So this past week, which I spent in Washington D.C., I wasn’t surprised when I fell into the same conversations. What did surprise me were the inordinate amount of people I ran into who shared my home state. “Where are you from?” they’d ask and, when I told them, break into a delighted grin and tell me they had family nearby, or they lived only a few hours from me.
The result was that in crowds I stopped seeing “Washington D.C. strangers” and started seeing “people who are potentially from where I live.” And as a result, everywhere felt just a little bit more familiar. I felt just a little bit more connected. When you know that people with whom you share a common tribe or identity are nearby, the world feels smaller in a wonderful way.
This is doubly true for Christians who find each other, so to speak, in the wild.
I experienced this when I went to the National Geographic museum and ended up seeing their Tomb of Christ exhibit, which I highly recommend: a 3D/VR rendering of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (built where Christ is believed to have been buried). The exhibit was really amazing and informative, but I think I enjoyed it all the more because of a man next to me who would periodically whisper under his breath – every time they showed the burial site – “But now He is risen! Amen, amen.” Without speaking, we understood each other. We shared something in common, and I felt at home.
And yesterday, when my husband and I exited the cab, our super-friendly cabbie (who had also taken it upon himself to act as a fantastic informal tour guide through the parts of the city we hadn’t seen) clapped us both on the shoulder. His enthusiasm and his attitude had caught my attention, and his words when we got out of the car confirmed my curiosity: “God bless you! God keep you safe on your travels!” When I said I hoped God would bless him too, he beamed. “Always does! How good He is!”
My heart is always touched by the feeling of not-aloneness that I can experience wherever I am at in the vast wide world. To me, it is one of the greatest beauties of Christ’s church. No matter where you are, you undoubtedly have a brother or sister in Christ nearby whether you know it or not. And whatever denominations or cultures separate us, what we have in common matters far more than whatever might divide us.
I often chafe against modern American-Christian definitions of “fellowship”: the small talk that happens over chip bowls and discussions of feelings with guided questions in small groups. But my travels remind me that real Christian fellowship is broad and varied and can be found anywhere and everyone in interactions large and small. It’s a wonderful thing and comforting too, the sense of pervasive Christian community that you can carry with you near and far.
You’re not alone, wherever you are. Jesus is always with you, of course. But odds are, your brothers and sisters in the faith are just around the corner, too.
Photo property of Samaritan’s Song. National Geographic Museum lobby, Tomb of Christ exhibit.